According to meteorologist Dan Keirns of the U.S. Weather Service, Kenai Peninsula residents can expect fairly normal weather.
"There really isn't anything to say that it should be tremendously different than normal," Keirns said. "We should have a pretty standard winter."
With one exception, according to Keirns: "It may be slightly cooler."
"Maximum temperatures in the Kenai area go from the mid-40s in October to the lower 20s in December and January," said Keirns, pulling from historical information. "The daily minimum average for that same time frame runs from the mid- to upper 20s in October to the single digits above zero and back into the teens in March."
During a normal winter in the Kenai area, there's a total snowfall of approximately 4.5 feet that generally starts accumulating during October, Keirns said. November accounts for another 10 inches of snow and 11 more inches hits the peninsula in December and January. Before tapering off in April, another eight inches falls in March.
This year, winter officially begins Dec. 21, with sunrise at 10:14 a.m. and sunset at 3:54 p.m., making a total of 5 hours and 41 minutes of daylight.
The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts Alaska is in for "an exceptionally cold" winter. Using a combination of founder Robert B. Thomas' secret prediction formula and modern scientific calculations based on solar activity, the almanac says "much colder" temperatures from November through March will dominate most areas of the state, including the Southcentral region. Also predicted are record-setting snowfalls across the state's southern regions, sweeping from the Aleutians across to the Southeast Panhandle. Heaviest snowfalls will occur in early November, toward the end of December, in mid-January, late February and early March.
Using a variety of standards, locals also are predicting colder temperatures on the Kenai Peninsula.
Early bird migration is a key factor for lifelong Kenai resident Emil Dolchok.
"I'm pretty sure it'll be cold, but not as much snow because the robins and swallows left before the middle of July," Dolchok said. "Usually they stay just about until the end of July and then they disappear, but for some reason this year they left very early."
Ninilchik resident Dean Kvasnikoff counts spiders.
"There's not as many spiders this year," Kvasnikoff said. "So we're not going to have near as much snow as in the past two years. I look for colder temperatures, but less snow."
Dave Clemson, of Anchor Point, has his eye on bark beetles and wooly caterpillars.
"It may be slightly colder than last year, but I don't think we're going to have any of that old time minus 30 or minus 40 (degree) weather. Winters are easier now than they used to be," Clemson said. Comparing snowfalls, he added, "I think we'll have snow, but not as much as during the record years.
In Sterling, Dorothy Westphal observed that peninsula fireweed went to seed early this year and leaves left the trees earlier than usual.
"I've lived on the peninsula for 39 years, and I think winter will be early and probably colder," Westphal said. "This is one of the coldest, late summers that I can remember.
Weather predictions and current information can be found at the following sites on the World Wide Web:
n Alaska Climate Research Center, http://climate.gi.alaska.edu/;
n National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center, http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov;
n Old Farmer's Almanac, www.almanac.com/;
n United States National Weather Service, http://weather.gov.
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