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Winter expected to start warmer, end colder than average

Posted: October 10, 2013 - 1:29pm

Juneau had its first hard frost of the season Oct. 6, but autumn might be slightly warmer than average, according to the National Weather Service.

October temperatures have been 2.4 degrees above normal, and autumn will continue to be a bit warmer than usual, forecaster Rick Fritsch said. But temperatures will drop below average as the months wear on. Juneau will cool off during the climatological winter of December through February, he said.

“By the time we get to February, we are expecting to see temperatures that are a little bit below normal,” he said.

This correlates with sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska. Because of the warm summer, surface temperatures are up. Ocean temperature and our climate are linked, Fritsch said.

“Sea surface temperature is still slightly above normal, but it is cooling off,” he said. “The temperature is going to go from above normal to below normal” as the season progresses.

The cooling and warming cycles of the sea surface are closely monitored, Fritsch said. The current higher temperatures are a departure from a downswing that’s been ongoing since 2006. The changes seem small, “one degree, two degrees maybe,” but can make a big difference in climate, he said.

“For the day-to-day variability of weather, that’s not a lot,” he said. “But little numbers can mean a lot when it comes to climate.”

Although October precipitation is up slightly from average, thanks to Tuesday night’s storm, Fritsch said he doesn’t predict autumn and winter precipitation to vary much from the norm.

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

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