Climate Highlights and Other News

February 2017

Heavy Snow in Southeast Alaska    

February 27 and 28 brought heavy snow to parts of the Panhandle. On Chichagof Island, Pelican piled up 18” of snow, and Hoonah over 8”. At Petersburg, a foot of snow accumulated, while the Ketchikan area received 4 to 9” accumulation. 

 

 

Record Low Temperature at Cold Bay    

The low temperature at Cold Bay on February 20 was -6°F (-21°C). This broke the previous record of +3°F (-16°C) set in 1974 and 1982, and is also the lowest tempertaure during February at Cold Bay since 1947, when the temperature dropped to -9°F (-23°C). 

Low Winter Snow in Juneau    

Juneau Airport received 24.6” (62cm) of snow during the mid-winter season. This is only 41% of normal and is the second lowest December through February snowfall total in the past 30 years. 

Record Warm Valentine's Day in Southeast    

Valentine's Day was exceptionally mild over Southeast Alaska, with many low elevation locations across the central and southern Panhandle exceeding 50°F (10°C). Annette topped out at 55°F (13°C) and Juneau Airport at 53°F (12°C), both record highs for the date. 

Snowy Winter in Fairbanks    

Fairbanks received a whopping 73.2" (186cm) of snow during the December through February mid-winter season. This is more than twice normal and the fourth highest mid-winter snowfall of record, and the most since 1992-93. This followed the second lowest snowfall in the autumn, so the total seasonal snow, though above normal, is not excessive. 

Driest Winter in Kodiak more than 40 Years    

This winter (2016-17) the December through February precipitation at Kodiak totaled only 9.65" (245mm). This is only 41% of normal and makes this the driest mid-winter season since 1972-73. 

Warmest Winter of Record at Utqiaġvik (Barrow)    

The average temperature for December through February 2016-17 at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) was -2.1°F (-18.9°C). This is more than 9°F above normal and easily the warmest mid-winter of record. The previous record was set in 2015-16, and third warmest mid-winter was 2013-14. 

January 2017

Strong Winds in Juneau    

A prolonged bout of cold Taku winds buffeted Juneau between January 6 and 8, with widespread damage to roofs, blown down trees and the winds even pushed a shipping container into Gastineau Channel. Winds peaked at 94 mph at the Juneau’s downtown library and 78 mph at the Federal Building. 

Very Low Bering Sea Ice Coverage    

Sea ice coverage near Alaska was very low early in January, the result of unfavorable weather for sea ice formation during the early winter as well as unusually warm ocean temperatures left over from summer 2016. During the first week of the month open water extended to north of the Bering Sea and into the southernmost Chukchi Sea. So remarkable was the lack of ice that on January 9, at Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island, hunters landed a bowhead whale, the first time in living memory that hunters were out in boats in January in completely ice free waters chasing a whale.

Heavy Snow at Alyeska    

Two separate storms brought heavy snow to the Gridwood and Alyeska areas in mid-January. A total of 17" fell in the first storm January 13-14. After a short break, another storm brought 16" more, pushing the snow depth from 14" to 37" in just five days. The area is no stranger to heavy snow, averaging more than 200" a year, although the past few winters have had very low snowfall near sea-level.