Climate Highlights and Other News

February 2018

Unprecedented waves and ice crashing ashore on Little Diomede on February 20, 2018.

Little Diomede, Alaska February 20, 2018. Photo by Carla Ahkvaluk and used with permission.

Unprecedented Late Winter Flooding at Little Diomede    

February 20 brought unprecedented late winter coastal flooding to Little Diomede, made possible by record low sea ice and a powerful storm that moved by to the west of the Bering Strait. The community helicopter landing pad was covered by boulder-sized ice chucks thrown up by the waves, and the power plant was briefly inundated. Such an event so late in the winter has not occurred in the memory of the community. 

Snowy February in Fairbanks    

February was unusually snowy in Fairbanks, with 23.4" (59.4cm) falling, all during the last two and half weeks of the month. This was more than twice the normal snowfall and enough to rank as the sixth snowiest February in the past century. As is often the case, snowfall was significantly higher north and west of town, with the higher elevation Keystone Ridge cooperative station reporting 38.6" (98.0cm) of snow during the month. 

Wet February at Anchorage    

As is often the case, precipitation and snowfall vary significantly in short distances in the Anchorage area. At the Anchorage Airport, February was unusually wet and snowy. Total precipitation, mostly, but not entirely snow, totaled 2.32" (58.9mm), the fourth highest February total in the past 66 years. Snowfall totaled 26.0" (66.0cm), more than twice normal and enough to be the sixth snowiest February since 1953. 

Record Warm February at St. Paul    

The average temperature at St. Paul in February was 34.8°F (+1.6°C). This is 10.0°F (+5.6°C) warmer than normal and the warmest February in a century at St. Paul. The previous record warm February was in 1989, when the monthly average was 34.1°F (+1.2°C). Climate observations have been made at St. Paul, with only a few breaks, since 1916. 

Record Warm Winter at Utqiaġvik (Barrow)

Record Warm Winter at Utqiaġvik (Barrow)

Record Warm Winter at Utqiaġvik (Barrow)    

The average temperature at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) for the December through February mid-winter period was +1.8°F (-16.8°C), a stunning 13.5°F (7.5°C) above normal and easily the warmest mid-winter of record. The previous warmest winter was 2016-17.with a three month average of -2.1°F (-18.9°C). Seven of the eight warmest winters in the past 97 years have been since 2000. 

January 2018

Heavy Snow in the Glennallen Area    

The Glennallen area is not an especially snowy region, but January 13-15 a total of 18.1" (46cm) fell at the NWS cooperative station. This is among the highest three total snowfalls of record in the area and the greatest three-day total since November 1-3, 1999.

Powder Snow at Anchorage    

Snowfalls of six inches or more are not unusual during the winter in Anchorage: in the past decade, nearly two dozen days had that much snow. However, the 6.8" of snow that fell on January 23 was unusual because it melted down to only 0.18" of water, having a snow to liquid ratio of 38 to 1, a far cry from the often used (but often inappropriate) 10 to 1 rule of thumb. This ratio is among the highest of record for big snowfalls in Anchorage, effectively equaling the ratio of 7.8" of snow that melted down to 0.20" water on February 28, 2009. 

January Record High Temperature at Sitka    

The temperature at the Sitka Airport topped out at 63°F (17°C) on January 14. This is the highest temperature of record in the month of January at the Sitka Airport. The previous record was 60°F (16°C) set on New Year's Day, 1946. This is also the highest temperature of record for any date between December 15 and April 1. Climate observations have been made at the Sitka Airport since 1944. 

Record Warm November through January at McGrath    

The average temperature at McGrath during the November through January early winter season was +9.0°F (-12.8°C). This is 10.6°F (5.9°C) above normal and is the warmest early winter season of record. The previous warmest was in 2000-01, when the average temperature was 8.8°F (-12.9°C).