Climate Highlights and Other News

May 2017

Photo of snowfall on Denali.

Snowfall on Denali.

Snow to Start Memorial Day Weekend at Denali National Park    

Snow in Denali National Park in late May does not happen every year, but isn't especially unusual. Most of the Park received accumulating snow on the morning of May 25. Amounts reported included 0.5" at Park Headquarters, 1–3" inches between Park Headquarters and Toklat, and 6" at Eielson Visitors Center. Additional snow fell during the early morning of May 26 in the western part of the Park, with 3" of new snow at Eielson. 

Kuskokwim River Breakup at Bethel: Near recent normal    

Ice on the Kuskokwim River at Bethel broke on May 6. This is close to average for the past 20 years, but is more than a week earlier than was typical prior to the 1940s. The potential hazards of this break and the subsequent flowing ice were noted by KYUK, as "Ice Continues Flowing Down The Kuskokwim, Posing Danger To Boats."

Record May Snowfall at Utqiaġvik (Barrow)    

May can bring significant snowfall to the North Slope, thanks to milder temperatures and increased available moisture. Heavy snow fell at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) from the late afternoon on May 25 into the early morning hours of May 26. The snowfall totaled 5.6" (14cm), making this the greatest 24 hour snowfall of record. The previous record was 5.0" (13cm) set May 18–19, 1996. Climate observations have been made without a break at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) since late 1920. 

NOAA Map of Low Sea Ice Concentration

NOAA Map of Low Sea Ice Concentration

Low Sea Ice in the Chukchi Sea    

Graph of Tanana River Break-up Date, 1917-2017

Tanana River Break-up Date, 1917-2017. Graph source: NWS Alaska Region.

Tanana River at Nenana Break-up    

April 2017

Record High Temperatures in Petersburg    

Like other areas in Southeast, Petersburg had an unusually mild April. Daily temperature records were set or tied on four days during the first half of month, including 59°F (15°C) on April 4, 10 and 13. Climate observations have been made at Petersburg, with some breaks, since the mid-1920s. 

Record High Temperature at Nome    

The high temperature at Nome on April 24 was 48°F (9°C). This is the warmest temperature of record for this date, just beating the previous record of 47°F (8°C) set in 1940. 

Record High Temperatures at Yakutat    

Yakutat set daily record high temperatures on three consecutive days in April. On April 12, the high of 63°F (17°C) smashed the previous record of 54°F (12°C), set in 2004. The following day (April 13), the high of 60°F (16°C) broke the previous record of 56°F (13°C) set in 1990. On April 14, the high of 61°F (16°C) easily exceeded the previous record of 57°F (14°C), set back in 1930. Runs of three consecutive records are not unusual, even for a location with more than 80 years of climate observations. 

Record Warm April at Annette    

Following a cold and snowy March, Annette recorded the warmest April of record. The average temperature in April was 48.7°F (9.3°C). This easily exceeded the previous warmest: April of 1995, when the average temperature was 47.7°F (8.7°C). 

April Record High Temperature at Kotzebue    

The temperature at Kotzebue on April 30 rose to 49°F (9.4°C). This was not only a record for the date, but is the highest temperature of record in April. The previous record was 48°F (8.9°C) set April 24, 1980, and again April 27, 1988.