Saturday, January 14, 2012

Where Winter Really Set Up Shop

Coastal towns in Alaska are arguably among the winners of the golden shovel this winter as they continue to rack up inches...or dare we say, feet of snow.

Matt Lanza alluded to all of the snow that fell in Valdez and Cordova in a post here a few days ago but if you haven't seen it in a visual standpoint, it makes Cordova look like Erie or Buffalo after an epic lake effect storm.    Cordova, at one point earlier this week, had 57" of snow on the ground....and had picked up at least two ten inch snowfalls in the first part of the month and some of the snow piles in town exceeded twenty feet in height.

Keep in mind a town like this doesn't have those shopping mall "snow mountains" that we're accustomed to seeing so having consistent piles of snow in the twenty plus foot range means there's been a LOT of snow.

Valdez, which is up the coast and to the west of Cordova, has fared even "better" from a snow standpoint.  Since January 1st, the town has had measurable snow every day but one through yesterday, has 78" of snow on the ground as of yesterday morning, and has picked up nearly 100" of snow in the month's first thirteen days.   An average January in Valdez brings 67" of snow over 31 days.

Snow on steroids, if you will.

The root cause has been the position of a cold trough over Alaska this winter, which has kept them in the proverbial freezer as the polar vortex has been over them much of the cold season.   This has set the storm track up so storms track just south of Cordova and Valdez, keeping them cold enough but also in the right position to bring a lot more snow than usual.  Anchorage is on pace for its snowiest winter on record and is approaching 100" of snow for the winter so far, more than the 61" of snow they picked up last winter.

Alaska has been the one place in the United States where the pattern has locked and loaded for winter chill and snow...the rest of us as a byproduct of that are mild and relatively snowless so far this winter.   In the wake of this current cold shot in the East, the potential for another round of storms to track through Alaska could set up shop in about ten days' time, just in time for us in the East to experience another January thaw.