Just how cold is it, anyway?

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2001

It got cold. It got real cold.

But, hey, what do you expect in Alaska in the winter?

Dan Peterson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage, predicted that this week's cold snap will stay put for a while. A high pressure ridge in the atmosphere is holding frigid air steady over the region, he explained.

The temperatures, while unusually cold for this time of year, are not breaking any records.

December's average low temperature in Kenai, based on 50 years of records from the Federal Aviation Administration, is 6.4 degrees.

But the recent chill still remains far above the central peninsula's coldest documented days. In years past, the mercury has sunk as far as 30 below. That is the record low for today's date in Kenai, set in 1975, according to statistics posted on the Internet by the Western Regional Climate Center.

Kenai's record low is minus 47, set in January of 1975. The coldest December of all was the cool Yule of 1961, when temperatures hit minus 40 several days running right after Christmas.

Normal temperature for December are far milder, ranging between zero and 20 above, with the high records being balmy days in the 40s.

In Anchorage, the record low for December was minus 30 in 1961; in Homer it was minus 16 in 1969; and in Seward it was minus 19 in 1977, the lowest temperature ever officially reported there.

Kenai Peninsula residents can take heart that, although winter has begun with a bang, forecasters are still predicting that 2002 will bring milder temperatures.

"We will be getting back to normal soon," Peterson said.

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