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Bitter Cold Weather Continues to Grip Alaska
UPDATED 10:30 AM AKST (4:15 AM EST), January 31, 2012
UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, John Bateman
While large stretches of the Lower 48 save on heating costs from above average temperatures today, Alaska remains locked into a dangerous cold pattern. The good news is that the well below zero readings will slowly lose their grip on The Last Frontier this week.
While the mercury will slowly edge up this week, a combination of the well-below-average temperatures and brisk north-to-northeast wind will create dangerous wind chills. Wind Chill Advisories continue for places in southwestern Alaska such as Bethel, Hooper Bay and Nunivak Island through midday Wednesday. Wind chills will range from minus-40 to minus-55 degrees. Frostbite can occur in a matter of minutes, so if you must venture outside, remember to dress in many layers to keep your body heat trapped.

WeatherBug Meteorologist Todd Nelson has the latest on the Midwest Warmup in this exclusive WeatherBug Wintry Weather Video.

Temperatures later today will range from minus-20 to minus-25 degrees across portions of interior Alaska while Wednesday offers some more relief with highs around minus-15 degrees. The good news by Thursday is that temperatures in the Middle Tanana Valley could go above zero degrees for the first time since January 12th.

Looking at low temperatures since Monday, many cities have bottomed out to near-record lows. Bettles dropped to minus-59 degrees, while Barrow hit minus-45. Nome chilled to minus-37 degrees, while McGrath was even colder at minus-42. Both Saturday and Sunday, Bettles bottomed out at a record minus-60 degrees. Not to be outdone, there were even colder readings spotted - Fort Yukon Cooperative Observation hit a low of minus-66 degrees.
The cold weather has been so persistent it`s now biting at January records. The average temperature so far this month in Fairbanks is 18.5 degrees below normal and on pace for the top ten coldest on record.
Winter has sure lived up to its name so far in Alaska. Between mid-December and January 9, more than 10 feet of snow piled up on Cordova, Alaska, bringing the season`s snowfall total to more than 15 feet and destroying the town`s buildings. Along the state`s west coast, icy conditions in the Bering Sea have left Nome iced-in. Russian and American icebreakers have spent much of January trying to reach the town to deliver gasoline and diesel oil to keep the town in operation and the town`s residents from freezing.
While Alaska has been in the grips of a cold and snowy winter, the Lower 48 has seen just the opposite. The Interstate 95 corridor from Boston to Richmond, Va., has seen temperatures 4 to 5 degrees above average in January. A total of 4.6 inches of snow have fallen in Minneapolis, compared to an average of 11.8 inches. To top things off, much of the U.S. from the Plains to the East Coast will close out January with temperatures 10 to 15 degrees warmer than average!
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