2002-2003 WINTER CLIMATE SUMMARY
National Weather Service, Anchorage
John Papineau, Ph.D 266-5165 email@example.com
Due to persistent periods of high pressure located over western North
America for much of the past winter, record warm air temperatures were
established in many locations throughout Alaska. Much of this record
warmth can be attributed to sea surface temperature anomalies in both
the north and equatorial Pacific Ocean. The North Pacific experienced
cooler than normal water temperatures which helped intensify and
re-position the Aleutian low pressure system further to the east, when
compared to normal. At the same time, sea surface temperatures in the
Gulf of Alaska and along much of the west coast of North America were
well above normal. The second contributing factor was the development
of an El Nino in the equatorial Pacific during the Spring of 2002. El
Nino's form when water temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific
are 2-4o F above normal. The net result of an El Nino is
to strengthen the upper level winds over the southern USA and in the
process produce areas of persistent high pressure over western Canada.
As a result of a deeper than normal Aleutian low pressure system and
high pressure over western Canada, warm air masses were consistently
directed into Alaska from the North Pacific throughout the winter.
Along with above normal temperatures, some regions were considerably
wetter than normal as well: primarily the North Gulf Coast, Kenai
Peninsula, and Kodiak.
During the second week of March, high pressure over British Colombia
gave way to lower pressure while high pressure developed over the
Bering Sea. This produced seasonal temperatures across the state
during month of March.