Monday, December 10, 2012

Mean Temperatures (November Freeze)

Another very cold November is behind us, and finally after three weeks of sub 0, things have warmed up a to more livable temperatures. If there is one thing that will drive me out of here it's going to be these long cold snaps. The dark I can put up with okay, but when it's too cold do ski or run outdoors that's when I start to go bonkers and begin to hate this place.

At one time, in my past life as a field biologist, I was numbers guy. I don't do much of that for work anymore, but here is some fun (some not so fun) with local temperatures.

For the month of November the average high temperature (using the UAF Climate Research Center's data) is 11 F and the low -5.7 F. That doesn't sound so bad really. I can live with those numbers. However, there is rarely a "normal" weather month. The extremes make up the averages. I do wish they'd report the range and standard deviation for the 30 or 50 year averages., and then you could tell if a given month or time period really is different from "normal."

Anyway, November's average high was 0.4 and the low -17.8, making it the just about the coldest since we moved here. Here's how it shakes out.

2004: 15.8, -1.8 (ahh I remember that month thinking, hey this place isn't so bad!)
2005:  1.8, -12
2006: -2.8, -17.0
2007: 20.0, 2.6 (wow! But snow was real thin that month)
2008:   6.8, -9.6
2009:  7.3, -10.2
2010: 19.2, 4.6
2011:  0.4, -16.8 (brr, and that set us up for the coldest winter yet)
2012:  0.4, -17.8 

So in nine Novembers, we've had two that are relatively "normal" (2008 and 2009), three trending warm (2004, 2007, and 2010), with four that were freakin' cold (2005, 2006, 2011, 2012). Alhough just looking at the averages without any statistical testing, 2004 might be more normal than warm.

And snowfall? Forget it. We're trending way below. The climate data does not appear to tabulate averages for snow on ground, but at 6 inches we had about half of the average for total snowfall for the month. So let's assume 12 or 13 is the average. In our nine years here we've never reached that by the end of the month. The best snow Novembers in that time were 2004, 2005 and 2008 with 10 or 11 inches. The low was 2006 with just 4 inches on the ground.

To sum  all this up, and this is consistent with climate change models, Fairbanks and the Interior Alaska are trending somewhat low for November temperature and very low for snowfall. That said, I look forward to the first week of February when things are looking up temperature wise, snow cover is consistent and good, and the days are getting appreciably longer.


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