Don’t be misled by the light scattered snow in Anchorage on Thursday morning, the state is expected to have above average temperatures and below average precipitation for most of winter.


The Climate Prediction Center released its latest winter outlook Thursday, and to no surprise Alaska is expected to remain warmer than normal in December, January, and February. Locations along the Arctic Coast, Bering Sea Coast, and the Aleutians have the highest probability of a warmer than normal winter. Southcentral Alaska is also expected to be warmer than normal, with Interior and Southeast Alaska expected to see equal chances for an above or below normal winter.


The predictions for Alaska come despite the fact that a La Nina is now officially in place. La Nina is expected to only have modest impact on the state, due significant ocean and atmospheric influences.


As for chances of precipitation this winter, the Arctic Coast, Bering Sea Coast and Aleutian Islands have above normal precipitation chances. Notably, Southcentral Alaska — from Kodiak east to the Canadian border — have chances for below normal precipitation. Parts of the Interior and Southeast have equal chances for above or below normal precipitation this winter.


2016 winter outlook graphic


The warmer than normal winter forecast comes after an already record-setting warm October for parts of the state. The average temperatures for August through October were above normal or much above normal for significant portions of Alaska.


2016 winter outlook graphic


The most noticeably warm areas of the state include areas along the Arctic Coast and Bering Sea Coast. Barrow recorded it’s warmest October, with an average temperature of 30.1 degrees.


A combination of warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the Bering and the Arctic, as well as record-low October sea ice coverage, have led to the record-warm temperatures this fall. October also brought an almost continuous southerly wind to the western part of the state, which helped usher in more Pacific warmth.


2016 winter outlook graphic


October was also an exceptionally dry period for much of the state. Stations across Southeast Alaska experienced an extreme lack of precipitation during what is normally the wettest month of the year. Yakutat, Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan all recorded their driest Octobers on record, with Haines recording its second-driest. Both Fairbanks and Anchorage recorded their first measurable snowfalls of the year later than usual.


2016 winter outlook graphic


KTVA meteorologist Rachael Penton can be reached by email, or on Facebook or Twitter.


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