Climate Highlights and Other News

December 2017

Damaging Winds in Port Heiden    

A strong storm on December 21 brought damaging winds to Port Heiden as a number of properties in the community suffered damage, including homes and the landfill. Peak winds of 84 mph reported at the Port Heiden Airport and a home weather station measured a gust to 103 mph. 

Heavy Snow in Glennallen Area    

Heavy snow fell in the Cooper River Basin on December 5 and 6. In some areas, the precipitation fell as rain for a brief period. With temperatures near freezing, the snow bent trees onto power lines, knocking out power to some places for hours. Snowfall reports included 12.0" at Glennallen by the cooperative observer, while 14" fell at Eureka on the Glenn Highway.

2017: Second Warmest Year at Utqiaġvik (Barrow)    

2017 was the second warmest year of record at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) with an average temperature of 18.3°F (-7.6°C). This is 12.1°F (6.7°C) warmer than normal and is much warmer than any other year of record except for 2016, when the average temperature was 18.9°F (-7.3°C). Climate observations have been made at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) since autumn 1920.

Damaging Storm in Southwest Alaska    

A brief but intense storm on December 22 produced damage in several communities. At Quinhagak, winds estimated to be gusting to 85 mph caused half the town to lose power for a day; fuel pumps were damaged; several structures suffered significant wind damage. Minor damage was also reported at Platinum and phone service was knocked out at Goodnews Bay. 

Record High Temperature Tied at Juneau    

The temperature December 8 at the Juneau Airport rose to 54°F (12°C). This equaled the highest temperature of record for the month, also observed December 12, 1944 and December 23, 1999. This was one of five days during the first half of December that the Juneau airport set or tied daily record highs. Daily climate observations have been made without a break at the Juneau airport since the early 1940s. 

Record Warm December at Kotzebue    

This was by far the warmest December of record at Kotzebue. The average temperature of 18.0°F (-7.8°C) is more than 15°F (8°C) above normal and 5°F (2.8°C) higher than previous record warm December of 2000. Climate observations have been made at Kotzebue with only a few breaks since 1928. 

Record Warm December at McGrath    

December was an exceptionally warm month at McGrath. The average temperature for the month of 19.3°F (-7.1°C) was more than 22°F (12°C) above normal, and also the mildest winter month of record. The previous warmest December was in 2014, when the average temperature was 10.7°F (-11.8°C). Three daily record high temperatures set during the month, including 45°F (+7°C) on December 23. Climate observations have been made at McGrath since 1941. 

Record Warm December at Utqiaġvik (Barrow)    

Following the mildest November of record, December brought more record temperatures to Utqiaġvik (Barrow). The average temperature for the month of +5.7°F (-14.6°C) was by far the highest December average in 98 years of record. The previous warmest December was in 1983, when the average temperature was +0.6°F (-17.4°C). 

Snowy Month in Bettles    

Bettles was very snowy the first three weeks of December. Measurable snow fell on 20 of the first 21 days of the month. The total snowfall for the month was 32.4", more than twice normal and enough to make 2017 the sixth snowiest December in the past 73 years. 

Alaska Center for Climate Assessment & Policy

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