"Parade of storms" heading to Bristol Bay over the holidays

Dec 21, 2020

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until 6:00 p.m. Monday, and gusts are expected to reach up to 70 mph after midnight, with widespread rain and snow showers.

Downtown Dillingham. Monday,Dec. 21, 2020
Credit Izzy Ross/KDLG

Bristol Bay is in for some stormy weather this week. The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory on Monday for the wider region, including Dillingham, Naknek, King Salmon and Pilot Point. That’s in effect until 6:00 p.m. Monday, and gusts are expected to reach up to 70 mph after midnight, with widespread rain and snow showers.

“Really quite a parade of storms here,” said Rick Thoman, a climate specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The warm, wet weather is a big change from earlier this month. Storm centers have moved further north in the Bering Sea, which is creating several low pressure systems.

“There’s going to be a whole series of these this week and into the weekend," Thoman said. "So for the Bristol Bay region it’s going to be the case — if you don’t like the weather today, wait ‘til tomorrow.”

The first weeks of December were cold, with temperatures in the single digits and teens. But the low pressure systems have pushed temperatures up to the mid-30s, and people can expect quite a few fluctuations over the next week.

“Temperatures will be above freezing and then drop below freezing for a couple days and probably pop back up," Thoman explained. "Most of the precipitation should fall as snow but there will be periods of rain in there as well."

But where is all this wind coming from? A storm in the Bering Sea has created a deep low pressure system. That system has been swirling west of the Pribilof Islands. Today it pushed warmer air across the Alaska Peninsula and into the Dillingham area.

Another low pressure system is expected to blow more southerly winds toward the region later this week, bringing some snow and rain.

“As we head towards Christmas Eve, we’ll see another low pressure form in the central Bering Sea. This one will wind up east of the Pribilofs,” Thoman said.

Another storm is forecast to move up from the North Pacific into the Bristol Bay region this weekend.

Temperatures are expected to remain steady in the mid-30s heading into the holiday weekend. People should watch out for areas of blowing snow and hazardous driving conditions due to freezing rain.


Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.