Weather

ALEX APPEL/Kodiak Daily Mirror

It may take up to a week for the current cold front to go away.

Keep the windows closed and put a kettle on the stove — Kodiak is staying cold, according to Carson Jones, a meteorologist in the Anchorage Office of the National Weather Service. 

Currently, there is a mass of arctic air centered over the Kenai peninsula that has been streaming cold wind around the island, Jones said. This mass has been there for about a week and a half and will not move unless a storm comes and pushes it away, according to Jones.

Until then, Kodiak will have to deal with freezing and sub-freezing temperatures.

Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on your preferences and patience — the National Weather Service predicts that there is a chance of snow on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29. This could be the storm needed to push away the cold, Jones said.

Or not.

It’s hard to predict if storms will hit Kodiak until they arrive, Jones said. This is because the North Pacific, which has one of the busiest storm tracks in the world, is sparsely populated. That limits the number of weather balloons that the National Weather Service can deploy, he said. 

Instead of weather balloons, the NWS relies solely on satellite data to track storms approaching the Kodiak area, according to Jones. Satellite tracking is “decent,” he said, but nowhere near as accurate as weather balloons, which report data to the NWS twice a day.

“When you get storm after storm coming out of the North Pacific, it’s very hard to pin them down before they come,” Jones said.

This is why there were reports of a large amount of snow coming in on Friday and Saturday, but it never happened. The storm that the National Weather Service saw coming blew east of the island at the last moment, he said. 

One potential explanation for the cold weather is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, Jones said. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO, refers to the long-term pattern of fluctuations in water surface temperature. Over the course of 20 to 30 years, temperatures get colder and then warmer. We are currently in a cool phase, Jones said.

This is also a La Nina year so there is a good chance that, come January, February and March, the snow and wind will pick up, according to Jones. The combination of the PDO and La Nina could mean a cold winter, Jones said.

Recently, the cool and warm phases of the PDO have been getting shorter, according to the National Aeronautic and Space Administration. There was a cool phase between 1947 and 1976, and then a warm phase from 1977 to 1999. After that, there was another complete cycle between 1999 and 2007, and then the last cool phase was between 2007 and 2013, NASA found. The last warm phase started in 2014, according to NASA.

However, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is characterized by “weak correlations,” so it may not be the primary cause of the cold, according to Jones. It’s hard to judge the impact that climate change has on the weather, Jones said.

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