Climate Highlights and Other News

March 2018

March Record Low Bering Sea Ice Extent    

Sea ice extent in the Bering Sea remained at the lowest levels of record through March. The average daily ice extent from the National Snow and Ice Data Center database was only 40% of the 1981-2010 normal and by far lower than any year of record. 

Record Warm Cold Season for Western and Northern Alaska    

The six month October through March "cold season" was the warmest of record (since 1925) from the Aleutians northward across western Alaska and North Slope. Much of the rest of the state was also unusually mild. The primary exception was the eastern Gulf of Alaska and Southeast, where for the six months, temperatures were not too far from normal. 

Near Record Warm March at Kotzebue    

The average temperature at Kotzebue in March was 12.8°F (-10.7°C). This 11.7°F (6.5°C) warmer than normal and ranks as the second warmest March of record. The only milder March was in 1998, when the average temperature was 13.5°F (-10.3°C).

Record Warm March at Utqiaġvik (Barrow)    

This was the mildest March in the 98 years of climate observations at Utqiaġvik (Barrow). The average temperature of -0.7°F (-18.2°C) is 12°F (6.7°C) above the 1981-2010 average. The previous mildest March was in 2002 when the average temperature was -2.2°F (-19.0°C), 

Record Warm Late Winter at Utqiaġvik (Barrow)    

The average temperature at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) for the January through March late winter season was -0.5°F (-18.1°C). This is 12.9F (7.2C) warmer than normal and easily the mildest January to March of record. The three warmest late winter seasons have been the past three years. Climate observations have been made at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) since the fall of 1920. 

February 2018

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)    

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. 

Alaska Center for Climate Assessment & Policy

2160 Koyukuk Drive, PO Box 757245  |  Fairbanks, AK 99775-7245 map  |   tel 907-474-7812  |  fax 907-474-5662  |  Email

ACCAP is a NOAA Climate Program Office Climate & Societal Interactions RISA Program.

Subscribe to our mailing list

UA is an AA/EO employer and educational institution and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual. Notice of Nondiscrimination