Mat-Su enjoys warm October

Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2009

WASILLA - Those who know, know it's warm.

While October days in the high 40s may seem a bit chilly to a cheechako, old-timers are basking in the unseasonably high temperatures.

"It seems to me, every year it's getting warmer," said longtime resident Nell Zaborack. "We still have our snow and subzero temperatures, but not near as much as when I first came."

Zaborack's Marine Corps husband was stationed in Alaska during World War II. Civilians were moved out when the Aleutians were invaded, she said. Once they were allowed back, Zaborack moved to Alaska in 1959 to be with her husband.

"I cannot remember an October this warm and with this little snow," she said. "I remember I would take my kids trick-or-treating and we almost always had had our first snow by then."

Regardless of long-term climate trends, a quick review of National Weather Service data from the nearest official recording station (Anchorage) backs up Zaborack. Based on averages from 1971 to 2000, and records from 1915 to 2009, this year's temperatures and snowfall (none) are far from normal.

Monday's high of 58 degrees in Anchorage was a 16-degree departure from the average of 42 degrees. A year ago, the high was 39 degrees, and the record high is a balmy 60 set in 1923.

The low on Monday was 40, 10 degrees above the 30-degree average. The average temperature for the day was 49, a 13-degree departure from the norm and 15 degrees higher than last year.

The ground is obviously clear of snow, and none has fallen yet in October. Typically, 3 inches has fallen by this point in the year, and last year saw 8.5 inches by Oct. 12.

The temperature has dropped in the past few days, but it continues to hover around 6 to 10 degrees above the average.

"I think it is warmer now," said June Leibing, who speaks with authority, having moved here with her homesteading parents in 1932. "We had a lot of wind that was really cold. I don't like wind. I never have."

However, she said, it was a trade-off because she remembers the summers being warmer. She remembers working in the garden and eating lunch with her brother on a hill under the sun.

"It was very warm and nice," Leibing said.

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