DISCUSSION: As many people living across southern and western Alaska look to the skies tonight, things are likely pretty typical across most of Alaska. However, in southern Alaska (i.e., not too far from the city of Juneau), there was an interesting and complex situation on the regional radar screens as of earlier Tuesday evening. This interesting site came in the form of a reasonably well-wrapped low-pressure system which was moving to the northwest and was on a collision course with the coastline of western Alaska. More specifically, this low-pressure system was taking aim close to the city of Sitka, Alaska.
What was somewhat peculiar about this low-pressure system is the fact that it tremendously resembled a tropical cyclone even though it is a system which is occurring in mid-November here in 2018. The reason for the mention of this specific tropical cyclone similarity is the fact that this low-pressure system had features which included the following: spiral rain-bands, deeper convection near the center of the low-pressure circulation, the almost perfectly symmetric rotation throughout the periphery of the low-pressure system, and a feature which closely resembles the eye and broken eye-wall of a typical tropical cyclone. What is even more interesting is the fact that such an event is occurring at this unusually far northern latitudinal position and is occurring in colder waters during November which is unfavorable for an event with such uniquely dynamic characteristics to occur in both regards.
As noted in the Tweet attached above (courtesy of the National Weather Service office in Juneau, Alaska), this system will have more than likely delivered sustained winds in excess of 50 to 60 knots by earlier on Tuesday evening. Thus, despite not quite being a true tropical cyclone in all facets of the typical tropical cyclone scenario, this is still going to be regarded as an interesting event which more than likely will deliver substantial impacts to the western parts of southern Alaska. This situation just goes to prove that interesting and compelling weather events can occur at any time of the year and without much notice even with the best numerical forecast models at the ready.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz