Climate Highlights and Other News

May 2018

Break-up of the ice on the Tanana River at Nenana has been trending earlier for decades, and the typical break-up is now about a week earlier than the first half of the 20th century.

Break-up dates since 1917 for the Tanana River at Nenana.

2018 Break-up of Tanana River at Nenana    

Break-up on the Tanana River at Nenana occurred on May 1 at 1:18pm AKST according to the official Nenana Ice Classic clock. This is very close to the average in recent years but would have been notably earlier than normal prior to the 1960s. 

April 2018

Late Season Snow in Southern Southeast    

Parts of southern Southeast Alaska had an late season snow on April 3. Ward Cove north of Ketchikan reported 6" accumulation, 5" in Ketchikan and Thorne Bay 2.5". 

Yearly values of the average April sea ice extent in the Bering Sea from the NSIDC passive microwave database (since 1979), showing the 2018 extent by far the lowest in the past 40 years.

Average Bering Sea Ice Extent in April

Record Low Bering Sea Ice Extent    

Sea ice extent in the Bering Sea during April continued to decline during the month and was easily the lowest of record. The average sea extent for April of 146,000 km² was only 21% of the 1981-2010 average and less than half of the previous lowest April extent (in 1989). 

Heavy Snow Eastern Prince William Sound    

Heavy snow fell over parts of the Kenai Peninsula and western Prince William Sound on April 4. Main Bay (near Whittier) reported 15" (38cm) and Alyeska 10" (25"), while 11" (28cm) was reported just north of Seward. 

Seasonal Record Low Sea Ice Extent in Bering Sea

Seasonal Record Low Sea Ice Extent in Bering Sea

Seasonal Record Low Sea Ice Extent in Bering Sea    

The maximum extent of sea ice in the Bering Sea for the 2017-18 season was reached on February 7th at just over 410,000 km². This is less than half the normal maximum seasonal extent and is by far the lowest in the 40-year satellite era database. For the first time, sea ice did not reach St. Matthew Island, and open water was frequent off of St. Lawrence Island. 

A home suffered extreme damage from a wind gust.

A home suffered extreme damage from a wind gust. (Image courtesy of KTUU)

Unseasonable Windstorm in Anchorage    

An unusually strong storm for so late in the season in the southeast Bering Sea brought very strong winds to the Anchorage area on April 24. Winds gusted to 55 mph at Anchorage Airport and 60 mph at Merrill Field, and hillside winds were clocked to 90 to 100 mph in some places. Numerous trees came down in the wind, and nearly 25,000 customers from Anchorage to Chugiak lost electrical power, some for more than 12 hours. 

March 2018

Mild Winter Low Temperature at Anchorage    

The low temperature at the Anchorage Airport for the entire winter was only -2°F (-19°C), on several days in early February. This ties with the winter of 2002-03 as the second mildest winter low temperature. The only winter in Anchorage history that failed to have even one day below 0°F was 2000-01, when the low was +2°F (-17°C). 

Heavy Snow in Southeast Alaska    

Heavy snow fell over parts of central Southeast starting March 26 and continuing into March 27. Total snowfalls included 9.6" (24cm) at Elfin Cove, 9.2" (23cm) at the Juneau Airport, 8.8" (22cm) at Annex Creek and 7.5" at the Snettisham Power Plant. 

Heavy Snow over Eastern Kenai Peninsula    

Heavy snow was reported across the eastern Kenai Peninsula and upper Turnagain Arm area March 8 to 9. In Seward there was an estimated 12" (30cm) of snow, while in Girdwood a storm total of 14" (36cm) was reported. Whittier reported 25" (63cm), with similar amounts estimated across Turnagain Pass. As is often the case, the storm brought much lighter amounts, generally 2 to 4" (5-10cm) to the immediate Anchorage area. 

Heavy Snow Around Bristol Bay    

Heavy snow fell in the Bristol Bay region March 6 through 8. King Salmon reported 15.9" (40.4cm) of snow March 7-8th, the fourth highest 2-day total of record. A storm total of 17" (43cm) was reported from Iliamna and 10-12" (28cm) at Levelock.