Climate Highlights and Other News

February 2017

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

Dutch Harbor Finally Has a Cool Month    

The average temperature at Dutch Harbor was 32.1°F (0.1°C), 0.3° below normal. This would not normally be much of a highlight, but this marks the end of the 43 month streak during which every month was warmer than normal. Prior to this month, the last month at Dutch Harbor to have an average temperature below normal was May 2013. 

Brief Cold Snap in the Interior    

The coldest weather in five years gripped Interior Alaska for several days in mid-January. Fairbanks dipped to -51°F (-46°C) on January18, the first time the temperature has been into the -50s in the Golden Heart City since January 29, 2012. Other low temperatures during this cold snap included -59°F (-51°C) at Tanana, -56°F (-49°C) at Bettles and -54°F (-48°C) at Nenana, all on January 19. While cold, these values are not close to record levels: no daily record lows were set at any long term climate station. 

Strong Winds across Southeast    

A strong and complex storm system brought high winds to parts of southern Southeast Alaska January 27 to 29. On January 27 winds gusted to 67 mph at Ketchikan and 65 mph at Hydaburg. At Juneau, winds at the airport were strong enough to delay several flights. At Skagway winds gusted to 60 mph, closing the Klondike Highway on January 28 and 29.

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.