Alaska Climate Research Center

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2019 February Monthly Report


Highlights

Persistent high pressure characterized the weather for much of February in the Interior and Eastern parts of the state. The ridging pattern associated with this was part of a large-scale omega-type block between centers of low pressure over eastern Siberia and eastern Canada. Influx of cold air from Siberia favored cyclogenesis in the northern Pacific and multiple storms embedded in the polar front moved South to North, roughly tracking the Alaskan coast from the Aleutians to Utqiaġvik. This led to advection of warm air from the south and very stormy conditions on the Arctic and Subarctic coast. This in turn led to a dramatic reduction in sea ice in the Bering Sea. A new minimum sea ice extent is recorded for the Bering Sea this spring 2019, and ice free conditions will occur in this region early in the season. The warm, south to southeasterly storms erode existing ice and prevent new ice from forming. Open water is visible in locations such as Unalakleet and Shishmaref, which is very unusual for this time of year and cause for concern due to the possibility of severe coastal flooding. The 2019 Iditarod sled dog race will not follow the normal race course across Norton Sound due to unstable ice conditions and instead take an overland route.