Climate Highlights and Other News

April 2019

Record Early Break-up on the Kuskokwim River at Bethel    

Break-up on the Kuskokwim River at Bethel this year occurred on April 13. This was, by a week, the earliest of record. The previous earliest being April 20, 2016. The typical break-up is now a week earlier than it was in the 1920s.

Record Early Break-up on Tanana River at Nenana    

The ice on the Tanana River at Nenana went out at 12:21am AKST on April 14th. This is more than two weeks earlier than average and is by more than six days the earliest break-up of record. The previous earliest was April 20, 1940 and 1998. The early morning break-up was quite unusual. This was only the seventh time in 103 years that the ice has gone out between midnight and 8am AKST. 

Warmest March of Record at Utqiaġvik (Barrow)    

The average temperature at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) for March was 5.9°F (-14.5°C). This is 18.6°F (10.3°C) degrees above normal and by far the warmest March in nearly a century of climate observations. The previous mildest March was in 2018 when the average temperature was -0.7°F (-18.2°C). This was also the mildest January through March late winter season of record, with an average temperature of 0.4°F (-17.6°C). The four warmest late winter season have been the past four years. Climate observations have been continuously made at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) since October 1920. 

March 2019

Record Warm March in Fairbanks    

The average temperature at Fairbanks in March was 27.6F. This is 16.2°F (9.0°C) above the 1981-2010 average and the highest average tempertaure for any March of record. The previous mildest March was 1981 when the average temperature was 27.1°F (-2.7°C).

Record Early Alaska Warmth    

On March 19 the temperature at the Klawock Airport on Prince of Wales Island reached 70°F (21.1°C). This is the earliest in the spring that any official Alaska station has reached 70F or higher. The previous record earliest data was March 31, 2016 when Klawock reached 71°F (21.7°C). Prior to 2016, the earliest 70°F or higher temperature of record was on April 9, 1914 at Ketchikan and Fortmann Hatchery.  

Warmest March of Record at Bethel    

The average temperature in Bethel in March was 30.5°F (-0.8°C), This was 15.3°F (8.5°C) above normal and easily the warmest March of record. The previous record warm March was in 1981, when the average temperature was 29.4°F (-1.4°C). This followed the warmest February of record, and the January-March late winter season was also the warmest of record with an average temperature of 24.4°F (-4.2°C), almost three degrees ahead of the previous warmest January through March (2016).

Quarterly Outlook: December 2018-February 2019    

Most of Alaska, northern Yukon and the northwestern portion of the Northwest Territories (NT) were significantly warmer than normal during this past winter, with some areas in western Alaska near record warmth.

February 2019

Snowy Mid-Winter in Nome    

Nome received excessive snowfall during mid-winter. The total of 69.8: (177.3cm) of snow December through February is 177% of normal and second highest of record. The only higher snowfall for the mid-winter season was 70.9" Dec 1994 to February 1995.  

Warmest February at Bethel    

The average temperature at Bethel in February was a remarkable 29.4°F (-1.4°C). That's 18.3°F (10.2°C) above the 1981-2010 normal and by far the warmest February in 95 years of climate observations. The previous warmest February had an average temperature of 26.1°F (-3.3°C) in both 1989 and 2000.

Strong Storms and Coastal Flooding    

A strong storm moved across the Bering Sea and into northwest Alaska February 11 and 12. This followed two weeks of stormy weather that had a created large areas of open water in southern and eastern Norton Sound. As the storm moved by, southwest winds gusting 50 to 60 mph pushed water levels in eastern Norton Sound high enough to produce unprecedented (for this time of year) coastal flooding at both Unalakleet and Kotlik. At Unalakleet the water level was measured at over 10 feet above the predicted tidal level. 

Alaska Center for Climate Assessment & Policy

2160 Koyukuk Drive, PO Box 757245  |  Fairbanks, AK 99775-7245 map  |   tel 907-474-7812  |  fax 907-474-5662  |  Email

ACCAP is a NOAA Climate Program Office Climate & Societal Interactions RISA Program.

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