Climate Highlights and Other News

June 2017

Alaska Climate Dispatch: Nov 2016 - April 2017    

In this Issue

  • Alaska Climate Analogs
  • Subsistence Fishing Management
  • Climate Review Nov '16-April' 17
  • Sea Ice: Spring 2017
  • Ancient, Warmer Beaufort Coast
  • News & Events

May 2017

Record Low Temperature at Anchorage    

The temperature at the Anchorage International Airport dipped to 36°F (2°C) on the morning of May 30. This is a new record for that date, just surpassing the previous record of 37°F (3°C), set in 1987. It is the lowest temperature so late in the spring since the 36°F reading on May 31, 1999. 

Spring Storm Whips Southeast    

A spring storm brought high winds and rain to Southeast Alaska on May 2. The storm bottomed out near 968mb (28.59") in the Gulf of Alaska, producing 25' seas and storm force winds. Peak land winds included 59mph at Hydaburg and 46mph at Ketchikan. 

Heavy Rain at Yakutat    

Yakutat is one of the wettest communities in Alaska, but the 3.25" (82.6mm) of rain that fell on May 21 was notable even by their high standards. This was not only a daily record but is the fifth greatest calendar day rainfall of record for May in Yakutat. The wettest day was May 28, 1991, when 4.65" (118.1mm) fell. Climate observations have been made at Yakutat, with only a few breaks, since before 1920. 

Record Low Temperature at Kodiak    

The temperature at Kodiak Airport on May 26 dropped to 32°F (0°C). This is a new record low temperature for the date, breaking the previous record of 34°F (1°C) set in 1984. This is also the latest freezing temperature in the spring since 1977, when the temperature fell to 30°F (-1°C) on May 28. 

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