FAIRBANKS - Interior Alaska better bundle up. Bitter cold is headed its way in what is the first cold snap of winter, and forecasters say it will be a doozy.
Bob Fischer, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fairbanks, said temperatures were expected to start falling Saturday, and by Sunday night lows are expected to be in the minus 30 to minus 40 range.
By late Saturday afternoon, temperatures in the Fairbanks area had dropped to 35 degrees below zero. Fischer said it's simply a matter of time before clouds move out of the area and temperatures bottom out. That's when temperatures could reach minus 50 or more in the Fairbanks area.
"It is just going to settle in and sit," meteoroligist Scott Berg said Saturday.
The coldest temperatures will likely be in the eastern Interior near Tok and the Canada border.
Fischer said it looks like the bitter cold will last seven to 10 days, or even longer.
"Once it gets cold, it's going to stay cold. We're locked into this pattern for the foreseeable future," Fischer said.
The cold temperatures are the result of a cold air mass over northwest Canada that is moving toward Alaska.
The last time Fairbanks had a cold snap in which the low temperature hit 40 below or colder for 10 days in a row was in January 1989, one of the coldest winters on record at the National Weather Service, Fischer said. That cold snap lasted 14 days.