Relationships between Temperature and Snowfall in Interior Alaska

Sue Ann Bowling

Temperature and snowfall at Fairbanks, Alaska are correlated, but the sign of the correlation depends on the period over which the correlation is carried out. On a daily basis, high snowfall requires above normal temperatures during the winter months. Monthly average temperatures are almost uncorrelated with snowfall, with the snowiest months showing a weak tendency to be near normal in temperature. On a seasonal basis (November through February), the warmest winters tend to be dry and the coldest winters to have above-normal snowfall. The cause appears to be linked to evolution of the long-wave patterns in the atmosphere, with patterns that produce heavy snowfall at Fairbanks early in the winter (west-southwesterly flow over Alaska) tending to evolve into patterns that produce cold weather in Interior Alaska (northerly flow over Alaska.)

Published 1977 in Arctic 30, pp 62-64