I got a text today from my brother about the weather in Wisconsin. I wanted to respond with a “don’t make this a competition” quip, but … well, if you have read this blog for any lenght of time, the weather comes up quite frequently. Part of the reason for that is something I tell myself to break through my natural introvertedness — if you need something to talk about in a conversation, say something about the weather, because everyone has thoughts about the weather.
Part of talking about the Alaskan weather is my learning of it as well. The obvious change when I moved here was there was going to be a lot cooler temperatures and a lot more snow than when I lived in Kansas. What was a change was that things weren’t as predictable here as you would think, and predicting weather isn’t what I am used to.
Anchorage has a fair bit of odd things effecting the weather. The landscape is fairly open to the north, so when winds come from that way its usually dry and COLD. We are on the ocean (though a fair bit inland on the Cook Inlet) so a system coming from the west or the south tends to be wet and warm(ish). Having our backs to the Mountains in the east has an impact too, because anything coming from that way has to get over those mountains, which means we could get nothing from it, just a bit, or whallop of wind and moisture. Parts of town get different situations, like on the south part on Hillside, where winds coming throught Turnagain Arm can reach epic (faster than Kansas) speeds. But of course, a system does come from due north or due west, so little variations in that direction could impact how the weather really effects us — will the winds to the north slow hitting the moist sea air? will the story to the south get caught up on Kenai? Will all the east snow just stop over Valdez and and up 10feet on them (no, that wasn’t an exaggeration). So even when we know a weather system is coming in, sometimes we don’t know what it will actually do until it gets here.
But I have to say, Kansas spoiled me for weathermen. The most dangerous thing about living in Kansas was getting hit by a tornado. The weather service and local media knew that and built themselves around it. For Weathermen, Kansas was the big-time, where you got the most expensive equipment and got to be tested with the most complicated of systems – and what you did saved lives routinely. In Kansas each station had their own “super doppler viper high-powered 3D radar” in multiple locations so they can get multi direcitonal views. Most of Alaksa has no radar coverage – a storm comes into view and they say “oy, I guess we should warn someone”. In Kansas, every channel you watched had just about the same prediction for weather. In Kansas, if the weather man said it was going to snow, you believed them and … it snowed (or it snowed nearby and they would show you why the prediciton wasn’t dead on) – you trusted your weatherman. In Alaska,well … the weather girl is cute to watch, that’s a plus. Yesterday, I talked to 3 people and we each heard a completely different weather report for today — and turns out none of them were right.
I will leave you with this: Today called for light snow highs in the mid-20s (-5°C) — and we have about 3 inches of blowing snow, 8° (13°C). But it should get above freezing later in the week (or go to epic lows, or snow, or rain frogs … you can’t tell for sure).