ANCHORAGE — One week before Thanksgiving, much of the nation is digging out from snowstorms, but the ground is bare in Alaska’s largest city.
This time of year, Anchorage normally has nearly 17 inches of snowfall. Instead, it’s had less than 4 inches — and that snow fell a month ago and melted in unseasonably warmer weather.
A light rain fell this week, only to later freeze into a slick layer on roads and trails. So far, however, Anchorage’s high this month was 48 degrees on Nov. 10, instead of the norm of 29 degrees for that day, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Dixon.
The same system that is pushing frigid conditions from the north to the Lower 48 states is bringing warmer and drier conditions to Alaska’s mainland from the south, Dixon said. It’s sort of like trading places.
“It’s not unprecedented by any means,” Dixon said Thursday. “But it is unusual.”
He said it should be winding down over the weekend, and Anchorage temperatures should be back to equilibrium by the middle of next week. That means colder conditions, but there is still no significant snow in the foreseeable forecast.
Without snow in Anchorage, local skiers are hitting the trails on roller skis. Some people are finding frozen lakes to skate on, even if it means leaving town. Children are exercising and playing games to work on skills they eventually will use in a program of the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage.
Tamra Kornfield, program manager for the association, has been part of that waiting pattern as a lifelong Anchorage resident.
There are winters when snow is late to arrive and snow lovers look for other forms of recreation. It’s something longtime residents realize, although people joke about sending snow up north if they find any while traveling.
“I’ll be glad when it’s here,” Kornfield said. “But I have been training myself not to push seasons, so to enjoy whatever season you’re in.”
Local high school cross-country ski teams are practicing by running and hitting school gyms and lifting weights, said Tim Helvey, activities principal for cross-country skiing for the Anchorage School District. But team members want snow and more snow.
“They’re ready to get out there and do what they want to do,” Helvey said. “That’s ski.”