Warmer temps and rain expected this week in Bristol Bay

Dec 12, 2016

Temperatures are climbing back towards the thirties, after several weeks of below zero weather. With the warmer air, some rain or a wintry mix is likely along the Southwest coast this week.

Audio Transcript: After a few weeks of below normal temperatures, the Bering Sea will again be bringing warm, moist air into coastal Southwest Alaska.

This satellite loop shows a rapidly intensifying storm force low in association with a satellite detected dry air intrusion, a special signature meteorologists look for during the early phases of cyclone development.
Credit National Weather Service

“We’ve basically been in a cold pattern for a while, where the storm tracks have been generally south of the Alaska Peninsula and scooting into the Gulf of Alaska, and keeping it cold over in Southwest Alaska," said Bob Clay, the lead forecaster at the National Weather Service office in Anchorage. "However, we’ve had a change in the pattern over the last day or so, and we’re going to be starting to pump a little bit more warm, moist air up towards the Bristol Bay region.”

Clay predicts warmer temperatures and a shift to a more southerly or southwest flow this week. By Monday night, some precipitation will come in the form of snow for areas inland, and a mix of snow and rain for the coastal areas.

“And that kind of trend will continue," says Clay. "We’ll see continued warming, so we’ll see more mixed precipitation types as we get in towards Wednesday, maybe Thursday.”

The forecasts for Dillingham and King Salmon show temperatures in the mid to upper 30's all week, with some rainy days ahead. Down in Cold Bay it’ll be in the 40's most of this week with rain and gusty winds.  Upriver communities like Koliganek and Igiugig should stay a few degrees cooler and might see more snow than rain.   

While this week's weather may put a slight damper on the winter fun, NWS has not changed its three month winter outlook.

“The January through March outlook is supposed to be for colder and drier," says Clay. "However that doesn’t preclude short periods in between that where we will see warm ups and more precipitation. But on an average, we’re expecting January through March to be colder and drier.”

Last winter a blocking ridge funneled numerous warm, moist storms from the Pacific into the Bering Sea and Bristol Bay. Those storms caused quite a few problems beyond spoiling winter fun, including adding to the seawall erosion in Togiak and apparently blowing common murres to open lakes inland where thousands died.

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.