Meandering jet stream finds Alaska warmer than Lower 48

The Associated Press - Published: January 23, 2014 | 11:25 am 0

WASHINGTON - The weather seems more than a bit upside down.

The average temperature for the Lower 48 states midmorning Wednesday was a chilly 22 degrees. The average temperature for the entire state of Alaska at the same time was 24 degrees, according to calculations by Weather Bell Analytics meteorologist Ryan Maue.

Parts of Alaska were 30 degrees warmer than normal, southeastern Alaska hit 57 earlier in the week and the forecast for the rest of week was more unseasonable warmth, said National Weather Service climate science manager Rick Thoman in Fairbanks. He said it's possible that the state record January high of 62 could be broken later this week.

Atlanta dropped to 16, Washington, D.C., to 9 and Central Park in New York fell to 7 on Wednesday. The jet stream - the river of air that dictates much of America's weather - is meandering again, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director at Weather Underground. So warm air is flowing from near Hawaii north to Alaska and from Canada south to the Lower 48.

"It's kind of something we've seen a lot of lately," Masters said. "You get major kinks in the jet stream. You get warm air where you don't usually see it in the north and cold air where you don't see it very often in the south."

So far this month, weather stations in the Lower 48 have broken or tied more than 2,600 records for cold, while Alaskan weather stations have broken or tied more than 20 daily temperature records for warmth. Alaska's relative warmth has shut down ski slopes and caused road problems.

"This is not the kind of weather most Alaskans like," Thoman said. "We'd be happy to swap."

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