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It has been a winter of weather extremes for Kodiak

Rain on window. Photo by Jerry Raia / Flickr
Rain on window. Photo by Jerry Raia / Flickr

This winter’s weather has been unlike many others on Kodiak Island. In fact, according to meteorologists it’s been extreme and even record breaking.

Brian Brettschneider is a research scientist for the National Weather Service in Anchorage.

“The month of November, it was the coldest November on record for Kodiak,” Brettschneider said.

November’s cold snap was followed by record breaking warm temperatures in December. That occurred shortly after Christmas when the Kodiak tide gauge temperature station hit 67 degrees. Since then, Brettschneider says it’s been a relatively normal winter temperature-wise. But there is one variable that’s unusual.

“This winter, since November 1, this is actually Kodiak’s driest winter since 1974,” Brettschneider said.

That was spurred by a continuous current of dry air from the mainland.

So, is any of this caused by global warming? Brettschneider says it’s a bit more complicated than that.

“Attribution studies are always a challenge. And in Alaska, we’ve had a relentless increase in temperatures over the decades. And so, I like to think of it as kind of the background noise, almost like a white noise machine. And so that noise, the volume dial on it gets turned up a little bit at a time, over long periods of time, at the monthly and seasonal timescale, it can be really difficult to pull out that signal,” Brettschneider said.

That means that while warm temperatures occur more often, and cold temperatures less common — as demonstrated in November, record-breaking cold events can still occur in a warming world.

“At shorter timescales, I like to say weather can overwhelm climate,” Brettschneider said.

According to Brettschneider, climate models are presently forecasting average to above average spring temperatures, with below average precipitation.