US gets first Winter Storm Warning of the season
Early Friday morning, the National Weather Service in Fairbanks, Alaska, issued a winter storm warning in the Brooks Range and a portion of the Alaskan North Slope. This is the first winter storm warning to be issued anywhere in the United States this snow season, which officially began on July 1.
The significant snow is forecast to fall across the higher terrain of the Brooks Range, mainly above 2,000 feet. Some areas above 4,000 feet could receive close to a foot of snow through Sunday morning.
“Winds will increase tonight and Saturday, causing high and rough surf along the north coast of Alaska. Wind gusts to 50 mph are possible,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tom Kines.
|Atigun Pass, Alaska, in the Brooks Range. (ADOT)|
The last winter storm warning in the United States was issued on June 15 for an area in northern Montana that included Northern Rocky Mountain Front and the West Glacier Region. The last winter storm warning issued by the Fairbanks NWS was on March 11 and included Denali and parts of the Eastern Alaska Range.
This area of Alaska still experiences near-constant daylight at this time of year, but the amount of daylight continues to decrease as winter gets closer. Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska, one of the locations under the winter storm warning this weekend, just saw its first glimpse of twilight for the first time in nearly two months on July 18.
As of Aug. 5, Anaktuvuk Pass experiences 19 hours of daylight and 5 hours of civil twilight. Civil Twilight is the period where the sun is about six degrees below the horizon, but on a clear day, there is still enough light for ordinary outdoor occupations, according to Merriam-Webster.
“Though the warned area is very sparsely populated, there will still be other impacts due to unsettled weather. The Dalton Highway, a key trucking route that links Alaska’s oil fields along the Arctic Ocean to the rest of the state, runs through this warned area,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Andrew Johnson-Levine explained. The largely unpaved highway, which connects Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, is the northernmost in the country, and frequently experiences poor weather conditions.
While Alaska experiences a taste of winter, the lower-48 will have to wait a bit longer for snow. In fact, Aug. 5 is one of few dates on which no climate stations in the lower 48 have ever measured snow in their recorded history, not including mountain tops.
But relief is in sight — August is the last month of meteorological summer, with meteorological autumn officially kicking off on Thursday, Sept. 1. AccuWeather’s fall forecast for the United States predicts one area could see an early frost, and others are forecast to experience an early significant snow.