Alaska Weather Without Javascript

This post is meant to be a brief overview of the NWS weather tools for Alaska and Fairbanks. I use these tools because they give a lot of detailed current and forecasted weather data for Alaska, without requiring the use of any JavaScript. Regarding my concerns about JavaScript:

JavaScript, the Web Browser, and Computing Freedom

As of Nov 2022, none of these Web pages require JavaScript for the functions I am interested in, though I imagine that will change some day, considering the general trend of organizations to try to make their Web sites as fancy and as bloated as possible.

PAFA (Fairbanks) three day weather observations

PAFA (Fairbanks) three day weather observations

This is a table of automated hourly weather observations for the Fairbanks airport, going back three days. This includes a lot of useful recent information such as wind, temperature, and humidity data, as well information about the clouds cover at various altitudes. Regarding the cloud cover:

FEW = Few clouds (0 - 25%)

SCT = Scattered clouds (25% - 50%)

BKN = Broken clouds (50% - 75%)

OVC = Overcast (75% - 100%)

The three digits after each code is the altitude of cloud layer in thousands of feet.

GEOS Satellite Images for Alaska

This page links to images for the GOES weather satellite data for Alaska. You can view the latest image for each type as a simple PNG file. There is also a GIF animation that cycles through the latest images taken. There is a link to a JavaScript version as well, but it is basically the same thing as the GIF animation, except it allows you to manual control the animation stepping.

The main downside is that there is no way to zoom in, so you can't see what things are like just around Fairbanks, for instance. But these images are helpful for getting an overview of how weather is moving through the state.

Here is a brief summary of each image type:


These are simple B&W photo of the clouds and land/ocean. These are not so useful during most of the Alaskan winter due to the extended darkness.


These are photos of the infrared radiation coming from earth, which basically translates to a heat map, allowing you to see cloud cover even when it is dark. You can also discern altitude, because the clouds at high altitude are colder and the clouds at lower altitude are warmer. The color scale is reversed from what you might normally expect, with white as colder and black as warmer, because this makes the clouds look natural.

Water Vapor

This is like infrared but with the frequencies tuned to detect water vapor. This is helpful for understanding how wet the air is in various locations.

Alaska Surface Map (Air Pressure)

Alaska Surface Map

This page shows the pressure map for the whole state and surrounding areas. "H" means high pressure (above 1013 millibars) and "L" means low pressure. For stargazing purposes, generally your best times are when most of the state is covered in a high pressure zone. This usually translates to clear skies, though unfortunately the temperature is also likely to drop dramatically (during the winter). High pressure is also nice during the summer, causing fine, sunny weather, but of course we have very little nighttime during the summer for stargazing.

Winds Aloft (Alaska Aviation)

Winds Aloft

Sometimes it is interesting to look at the wind patterns at various high altitudes, with the arrows pointing in the direction of wind movement, and the ticks or flags indicating how much wind.

NWS Forecast for Fairbanks

This page gives the day and night summaries:

NWS Forecast for Fairbanks

There is a link at the bottom of the page to the Hourly Weather Forecast, which is the most interesting forecast. It shows nice graph graph lines for the next 48 hours, showing predicted temperature, humidity, precipitation, and so forth. The one I am usually most interested in is the Sky Cover %, which predicts how cloudy it will be.

That about sums it up. Keep in mind, of course, that these are forecasts and not divination. I have seen that they have sometimes revised a forecast less than a day out.

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