Snow is scarce in Fairbanks

Posted: Wednesday, February 03, 2010

FAIRBANKS - There wasn't much snow last month in Fairbanks, and now there's a little less.

The National Weather Service says that because of a clerical error it reported slightly more snow on one day in January.

The two-tenths of an inch of snow recorded on Jan. 21 should actually have been one-tenth of an inch, National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Thoman told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

"Somebody just put the wrong number down on one form," he said.

Fairbanks appears to be on track for one of its lowest winter snowfalls on record.

"We're definitely getting down into the pathetic category now," Thoman said.

The record low-snow winter was in 1918-19, when only 10.8 inches fell through Jan. 31, and just 1.2 inches for the rest of winter, all in April.

Thoman said its highly unlikely that will happen again. Still, he said that if Fairbanks gets average snowfalls for the next three months, the total winter snowfall will be only about 36 inches, approximately half of normal.

The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race starts Saturday in Fairbanks and race organizers hope a coat of fresh snow will cushion what's expected to be a rough trail for the 23 mushers entered.

Thoman said that's unlikely. Though a few flurries fell Monday, there is no significant snow in the forecast for the next week, he said.

Mushers will have to endure bitter cold temperatures, with the forecast for the start on the Chena River likely around 20 below zero, he said.

"It will be a cold start for the Quest, for sure," Thoman said. "We are going to get a shot of cold weather, but it doesn't look like it's going to last that long."

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