Interview with Rick Thoman from NOAA

After “The Great Tok Weather Controversy,” Rick Thoman from NOAA stopped by to talk about the weather. Here’s a video of him up on mDialog (click on link or video image to go to site and play – QuickTime required).

Play the video…

rick-thoman-from-noaa-by-aliza-sherman-mdialog-11Also received the attached PDF files and following note from Rick that may be of interest.

Read on for a note from Rick Thoman…

As promised, attached are pdfs of the charts I handed out on Friday. I’ve spiffed them up a bit to acknowledge the data sources and added the required caveats.

On the drive home Friday afternoon, I was thinking that one issue we did not discuss, but that might be of interest to readers of “Living in Tok” from Outside, is the fact that in Tok (and Interior and northern Alaska in general), is that in mid-winter temperatures can get into the 30s below or colder and stay there, night and day. This just does not happen in the lower 48. Anywhere. Ever.

Yes, northern Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana can have low temperatures in the 40s and even 50s below. But daytime temperatures recover at least into the 20s below, if not teens below. And that is record cold territory. I believe that International Falls, MN, (“the Nation’s Icebox”) lowest daily high temperature of record is 31 below, and most days in mid-winter the daily record low maximums are in the teens or 20s below. Earlier this month when there were some record lows in these areas, the coldest day at International Falls had a high of 13 below, and Bismarck, ND had no days with a high even in double digits below. Now obviously a day in mid-winter in Tok, or really any valley location in Interior Alaska, with a high of 31 below is pretty ho-hum. Chilly, but nothing to get too thrilled about. It’s that super-cold soak, with temperatures continuously 30s below and colder, that really takes its toll.

(from Rick Thoman, NOAA)

So what do you all think of this? My feeling is that since the -71 and -80 temps seem likely that they were technical malfunctions, we’ll just have to settle for the fact that we had consistent temps in the -50s and -60s for over a week and leave it at that.

Oh well, no earth shattering record. But still a wee bit colder than you, eh?

Leave a comment


  1. Jim Ramsey

     /  January 25, 2009

    Aliza: Good job with blog; keeping my interest. Really got interested in AL problems and issues with Sarah Palin’s candidacy this year. Rick seems like a neat weather guy-one of my big interests. Whole new set of living rules when the weather can kill you in a few minutes. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  2. joankr

     /  January 27, 2009

    Aliza, I’m really enjoying your blog, partly because it makes me feel warm when our daily highs are barely above zero! I do not really see a great difference between -68 and -71, though — they’d probably both feel the same to me!

    I shared your blog with dear friends who met and fell in love (& eventually married) as they rode in their college band bus up the Alaska Highway 50 years ago to perform at the statehood ceremonies. They definitely remember Tok, though they said it wasn’t quite so big back then!

    Looking forward to more stories, photos, and videos from a state that’s actually colder than mine (MN)!



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