Blizzards!

Many people believe that blizzards come from cold temperatures and clouds that form above, however, they may not know of the many different types of blizzards that occur and how they form.

In Anchorage, Alaska, blizzards that form begin from cyclones coming off the northern Pacific Ocean into Alaska and Northern Canada.

extratropical_cyclone_off_north_eastern_japan_dec_26_2012

In order for these blizzards to be present, there needs to be an Aleutian Low, which is typically located downstream of the major mid troposphere stationary troughs, where cyclogenesis is favored by upper level divergence.

An Aleutian Low is a semi-permanent low-pressure center at sea level located near the Aleutian Islands during the winter. It is one of the main centers of action in the atmospheric circle in the Northern Hemisphere.

aleutianlow

Created by a low-pressure system settling in the Prince William Sound, a blizzard hit Anchorage on January 9, 2012.

This system brought moisture to cold winds mixing in a high-pressure area, creating this devastating blizzard. The storm lasted about 11 days in the beginning of January, dumping 81.3 inches of snow in Anchorage. Many areas and people were affected by this storm, including the town of Cordova, and the Village of Main Bay, which was dumped with more than 100 inches of snow.

map_southalaska

This was significant because this was one of the biggest storms in recorded history. The snowfall that Anchorage received was more than double than that of the average snowfall between June and January each year. This came as a big surprise, leaving Alaska to clear everything for over a week.

This left a big impact on Anchorage due to the fact that it wasn’t ready for this amount of snowfall in such a short duration of time. They had to call in emergency shovels and plows in order to keep up with the falling snow. Many people were without power due to winds and telephone poles falling down.

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Due to the severity of the storm, and the injuries caused by the dangerous amounts of snow, the city of Anchorage called upon the US Army to help with the removal of snow and people.

Anchorage doesn’t typically see as much snow as the rest of the state, however, the blizzard of 2012 saw much of Alaska, and Anchorage especially, struggle with the economic and physical impacts of the storm.

Sources are hyperlinked, however, here are more sources we gained information from:

http://www.livescience.com/17899-anchorage-sets-snowfall-record.html

https://climate.ncsu.edu/edu/k12/semi_p_highs_lows/body

http://theglobalpanorama.com/category/our-world/

Serreze, Mark, C. and Roger G. Barry. The artic Climate System. Cambridge Atmospheric and Space Science Series. 2005. Print.

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