Climate Highlights and Other News

December 2016

A map of Southeast Alaska showing estimated heavy snowfall for many communities, with the heaviest predicted snowfall in Hyder.

Heavy snowfall predicted after Christmas across Southeast Alaska, with Hyder receiving the highest amount of precipitation. Image source: NWS.

Heavy Snow in Hyder    

Heavy snow fell in Hyder on December 26-27, with 23.2" (59cm) of snow piling up before the precipitation changed to rain. Snow depth briefly reached 32" (81cm) before settling back to 20" (51cm) by December 29. 


Source: NOAA & ECCC

Quarterly Outlook: September–November 2016    

Fall 2016 saw near normal temperatures in the central Yukon and northern Northwest Territories. Every other portion of the region was above — or significantly above — normal. This is largely a result of record low Arctic Ocean sea ice. Record warm Pacific Ocean waters contributed to the unrelenting warmth of the coastal regions. Precipitation in southeast Alaska was below normal for the season and at a record low for October. Nearly every station in southeast Alaska had their driest October on record. In northwest Canada, almost all of the Yukon Territory was drier than normal. This is likely due to warm, ice-free water, which provides atmospheric heat and moisture at a time of year when it is typically locked away under ice.

Alaska Climate Dispatch: May-Oct 2016    

In this issue

  • Climate Information & Social Media.

  • Summer and Fall 2016 Weather

  • Sea Ice: Summer and Autumn 2016

  • Climate Change and Fire 2015.

  • Glacier Change Research

  • News & Events

A chart indicating the high - though varying - levels of snowfall in early December. The chart has totals for ten locations around Anchorage and extending from Talkeetna to Soldotna.

This chart from December 2 shows the varying snowfall totals from 10 locations in the greater Anchorage area. Image source: NWS.

Anchorage Finally Gets Snow    

Anchorage received only 1.3" (3.3cm) of snow in November, the third lowest November snowfall total in the past 60 years. Even so, most of the city still had bare ground. A storm on December 1 finally brought widespread and significant snowfall to most of the Anchorage area. West Anchorage received more than most low elevation areas, with 7.7" (20cm) at Anchorage International Airport, which constitutes a new record for December 1. Snowfall amounts in East Anchorage were generally 3–6", with 7" reported in Midtown. The Eagle River area reported 5–9" of snow accumulation.

This map of Southeast Alaska shows estimated snowfall for December 6.

Recorded snowfall in Southeast Alaska met and exceeded these December 6 initial predictions. Image source: NWS.

Major Snowstorm in Southeast Alaska    

Heavy snow fell over parts of central Southeast Alaska on December 6 and 7. Pelican, on northern Chichagof Island, reported a whopping 31" (78.7cm) of accumulation. In the Juneau area, accumulations ranged from about 8" in downtown Juneau, 11" (28cm) on Douglas Island, 13" (33cm) in Mendenhall Valley, and 15" (38cm) at Lena Point. At the National Shrine of Saint Thérèse, about 18 miles northwest of Juneau on the Glacier Highway, 22" (56cm) of snow was reported. There was little accumulation in the town of Sitka, but 7" (18cm) of new snow was reported 6 miles south of town. 

November 2016

Dry Autumn at Yakutat    

Yakutat is one of the wettest communities in Alaska, averaging more than 150" (381cm) of rain and melted snow each year, and autumn is by far Yakutat's wettest season. However, over this autumn Yakutat received only 33.44" (84cm) of precipitation. This is 58% of Yakutat's normal precipitation, making autumn 2016 the third lowest autumn total, and the lowest since 1973. Climate observations have been made at Yakutat, with a few breaks, since 1917. 

Warmest Autumn on Record at Utqiagvik    

The average temperature at Utqiagvik (Barrow) for the 2016 autumn season (September through November) was 26.0°F (-3.3°C). This is more than nine degrees F above normal, making this the warmest autumn on record. The previous warmest autumn was 1998, when the average temperature was 25.8°F (-3.4°C). Climate observations have been made without a break at Utqiagvik since late 1920. 

Map of southeast Alaska showing 12 highlights from the Nov 29 snowstorm. Wind speeds range 55-72 mph, and snow accumulations range 10"-15.8". Some light damage reported.

Reports of wind speeds, snow accumulation, and damage from southeast Alaska after the November 29 snowstorm. Image courtesy of National Weather Service.

Heavy Snow in Northern Southeast    

NWS map of Southeast Alaska, showing high winds from south to north

Strong Winds in Southeast Alaska. (NWS map)

Storm Pounds Southeast    

A fast-moving storm produced strong and, in some places, damaging winds on November 29. Wind gusts up to 72 mph were recorded at Hydaburg, 64 mph on the roof on the Juneau Federal Building, and 58 mph on the roof of the Ketchikan Airport terminal and at Petersburg. There was roof and siding damage at Hydaburg, and in the Juneau area, a fallen tree briefly clogged Mendenhall Loop Road. Flying debris also caused minor damage to a parked car in downtown Juneau. 

NWS map of Alaska's Aleutians, showing strong gusting winds up to 99 mph and 51 ft seas

Strong Winds Slam Aleutians and Alaska Peninsula. (NWS map)

High Winds in the Aleutains and Alaska Peninsula    

A strong storm pounded the Aleutians and the western Alaska Peninsula on November 26, with widespread reports of 60 to 85 mph winds. False Pass had the highest measured wind gust at 99 mph. Other gusts included 75 mph at the Unalaska Airport, 82 mph at a nearby marine weather station, 72 mph at King Cove and 74 mph at Cold Bay. Some damage was reported at Dutch Harbor, including roof damage and a large container that had fallen off of its supports and onto a vehicle.