The European model shows a pool of exceptionally cold air at high altitudes (approximately 17,000 feet or 500 millibars) over much of Alaska Friday morning. (

Hats off to the brave souls who inhabit the Last Frontier. On the eve of Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, some Alaskans are enduring snow and one of the coldest weather systems on record so late in the season.

At 8 a.m. local time Friday, Fairbanks reported light snow and a temperature of 36 degrees. It is only the fifth time the city has witnessed snow on May 26, according to climatologist Brian Brettschneider.

Utqiaġvik (Barrow) — at Alaska’s northern tip — picked up 4.2 inches Thursday, the most on record for any date between May 20 and July 4, Brettschneider tweeted. Through 4 a.m. local time Friday, the total was up to 5.6 inches, the most snow ever recorded in May during a 24-hour period.

Even in the hills outside the southern city of Anchorage, flakes were flying Thursday.

In famed Denali National Park, several inches had accumulated, according to reports.

The snow fell largely in response to an exceptionally cold pool of air, about 17,000 feet in altitude, that settled over the state. Brettschneider said that temperatures at this level plunged to their lowest levels ever recorded so late in the season in Bethel, McGrath and Fairbanks. These temperatures were around minus-36 degrees Celsius (minus-33 Fahrenheit). He described it as a “rather remarkable event” in a post on Facebook.

For Alaskans anxious for this wintry weather to depart, the news is good within its interior. In Fairbanks, highs are forecast to rebound into the 60s by Sunday, and will close in on 70 by the middle of next week.

In Anchorage, the outlook isn’t as rosy. Thanks to persistent low pressure over the Gulf of Alaska, it is predicted to remain chilly, overcast and damp, with highs in the 50s well into next week.