Spring is underway in Alaska, but where are the spring-like temperatures?

Although Monday marks the official start of astronomical spring, meteorologists and climatologists categorize spring as the months of March, April, and May. That’s because weather patterns usually begin to change in March, with temperatures on the upswing.

Although temperatures begin slowly rising this month in most areas of Alaska, it’s usually still chilly. But this year, they’re even chillier.

According to the National Weather Service, the statewide daily temperature index has been below zero each day in March thus far. That means all of the 25 climate reporting stations across the state have registered below normal temperatures.

(Courtesy of the National Weather Service)

Anchorage usually sees low temperatures in the upper teens and high temperatures in the low 30s by mid to late-March. However, this year temperatures are running cooler than normal. Anchorage is continuing to see low temperatures in the single digits and low teens. The warmest temperature recorded so far this month is 31 degrees, on March 11 and 12.

Fairbanks is also experiencing a cold March, with temperatures running 10 to 15 degrees below normal. The lowest temperature recorded this month is minus 39 on March 8, just a few degrees away from the March record low of minus 45.

The month-to-date average temperature in Fairbanks is 9.6 degrees below zero, much colder than the normal average temperature of 8 degrees.

So, what’s causing the March chill?

Alaska has been stuck in a stagnant weather pattern. High pressure has remained situated over the Bering Sea, keeping conditions over Western, Interior and Southcentral Alaska mostly clear and quiet.

At the same time, an upper level trough has remained in place over the eastern half of the state, keeping Arctic air flowing south through the Interior and Southcentral. This has kept temperatures below normal.

This pattern is forecast to stay in place for at least another week, keeping below normal temperatures in the forecast for mainland Alaska for the next 6 to 10 days.