Sunrise 1-25-14The days are getting longer – 6 hours and 25 minutes today. Sunrise this morning will be 9:52 in the morning, and it won’t set until 4:17 this afternoon. Add to that that it’s high enough in the sky (7° now) that only clouds prevent sunshine on my walls. That doesn’t mean that we expect warm weather – the average temperature here at the end of January is the coldest of the year. Usually.

Would you believe our high temperatures hit freezing last Tuesday and they’ve been at or above freezing every day through Friday? when the official high only reached +30°F? That it actually rained Thursday (practically closing down the Fairbanks area) and reached 45°F Friday? It hit 30 (officially) on Saturday, Sunday a truck on the highway was spraying water on my windshield, and we could reach above-freezing temperatures again today.

The jet stream is still the culprit both for our warmth (it’s blowing from Hawaii to the north over Alaska, locally known as the pineapple express) and for the cold as it turns south from the Arctic Ocean over the central and eastern states.

The air aloft here is actually much warmer than the surface temperatures would suggest. In windy areas such as McKinley Park and Delta, the temperatures are in the 40’s. Here it is cold at the surface due to radiation to space, and the winds are confined to higher elevation. This also means very poor mixing of pollutants. Have a look at the video* at around 14 minutes. That freezing level map implies a really warm bubble of air over our heads. (In case you’re wondering, I’m just south of the comma in the 8,000 feet near the border with Canada.)

*The video of the Sunday night weather program finally was posted around noon.

Meanwhile, here’s the map of freezing level heights.The red lines, showing the height of the top of freezing air, are normally entirely south of mainland Alaska this time of year.

Freezing level 1-27014