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Extreme Weather: Alaska Hit By New Cold Records

For the second time in three days, Fairbanks set a new low temperature record on Thursday. A temperature of 41 degrees below zero — the first 40 below temperature of the season — was recorded at Fairbanks International Airport at 6:29 a.m., according to the National Weather Service in Fairbanks. That broke the old record of 39 below set in 1969.

FAIRBANKS – A mid-November cold snap seems to have caught even seasoned Fairbanksans off guard.

“I don’t think anybody was really expecting this,” 43-year-old Shawn Ross, a lifelong Fairbanksan, said. “This came out of the blue.”

For the second time in three days, Fairbanks set a new low temperature record on Thursday. A temperature of 41 degrees below zero — the first 40 below temperature of the season — was recorded at Fairbanks International Airport at 6:29 a.m., according to the National Weather Service in Fairbanks. That broke the old record of 39 below set in 1969.

The cold air settling in the flatlands has concentrated air pollution. The Fairbanks North Star Borough issued air quality advisories on Wednesday and Thursday because particulate matter was above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standards and rated as unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Fairbanks set a new record of 35 below on Tuesday and the temperature bottomed out at 39 below on Wednesday, two degrees shy of the record.

Thursday’s record low of 41 below marked the sixth earliest 40-below temperature recorded by the National Weather Service in Fairbanks since 1904. The earliest it’s ever hit 40 below in Fairbanks was Nov. 5, 1907, when it hit 41 below.

The last time Fairbanksans saw 40-below temperatures in November was in 1994, when temperatures of 45, 43 and 45 below were recorded on Nov. 24, 25 and 30, respectively.

The bitter, early season cold had Interior residents wondering if somebody turned the calendar ahead a month or two.

“This sort of thing is certainly more common in December and January than November,” meteorologist Dan Hancock at the National Weather Service in Fairbanks said. “We can go through an entire winter and not get this cold.”

Ross, who has owned Badger Towing for 11 years, said even he wasn’t prepared for a cold snap this severe so early in the season.

“I didn’t have all my trucks on the road,” he said Thursday as he scrambled to keep up with demand for his services from motorists stranded by shredded tires and frozen engines. “I had one driver who had to run down to the store to buy some winter boots because he was still wearing fall boots. He said he’d just wear another pair of socks, but that doesn’t do it.

“Twenty or 25 below is tolerable, but past 30 below it’s a whole different ball of wax,” Ross said.

Several record low temperatures set more than 40 years ago were broken overnight Wednesday in the Fairbanks area.

Eielson Air Force Base reported a low of 43 below early Thursday morning, which broke the previous record of 40 below in 1969. It was the second day in a row a new record was set at Eielson. It was 42 below there on Wednesday morning.

The coldest temperature reported Thursday morning was a record 54 below in Manley Hot Springs. A temperature of 49 below was recorded at KNJP radio station in North Pole, also a record.

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