Forecasters predict warm summer

Bitter winter may to lead to balmy season

Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Winter in Alaska will continue to be cold, but summer - unlike last year - should be warmer than usual, according to federal forecasters.

Colder-than-normal surface sea temperatures off the south coast of Alaska - the same thing that forecasters say is diverting the polar jet stream farther north and making Alaska bitterly cold in recent weeks - should modulate by summer if the South Pacific warms first, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which correctly predicted the recent cold snap that kept Alaska in its grip for 11 straight days.

Last year, Anchorage ranked as the coldest year in a decade. From May through August last year, the National Weather Service says Anchorage recorded its lowest average daily temperature - 52.5 degrees - in a quarter century.

This summer should be balmier, forecasters say.

Mike Halpert, the deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, said then the warmer-than-normal air temperatures that have prevailed over Alaska for most of the past decade would have a chance to return.

"It's kind of like the old persistence thing," he said. "If it's been warm, it just often times continues to be warm."

Halpert cautioned that the long-range temperature forecasts aren't certainties.

"There's a lot of speculation that goes into these forecasts," Halpert said. "That's one reason why we update them monthly. We don't take one shot at it and live with it for the year."

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