High-pressure system may affect airplanes

Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2011

FAIRBANKS — A severe high-pressure system in the Alaska Interior and Arctic this week is expected to cause a strong temperature inversion and may affect some airplane instrument systems.

The high-pressure system has already pushed barometric pressure readings above levels of 31 inches of mercury in some parts of the Arctic, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The National Weather Service said similar levels are expected in parts of the Interior by Wednesday.

The pressure levels may affect airplane altimeters, making them read as much as several hundred feet above true altitude in parts of the state, said Bob Fischer, a weather service forecaster.

The false readings won’t necessarily affect aviation. Pilots in the affected areas will need to fly when visibility is good, and those conditions are expected throughout the week.

“This is really no cause for panic,” Fischer said. “We’ll have severe clear everywhere pilots will be able to make visual approaches day and night.”

In Fairbanks, which is 454 feet above sea level, the high pressure system isn’t expected to set any records, the weather service reported. In Barrow and Deadhorse, places closer to the center of the system and nearer sea level, records could be set.

Fairbanks-area residents will experience the high-pressure system in the form of a big temperature inversion between the valleys and hills.

Fischer said temperatures in the hills will be 20 to 30 degrees warmer than in valleys, where a cold snap could dip temperatures down to 30 below zero by later this week.

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