Climate Highlights and Other News

June 2018

November 2017 - April 2018 Alaska Climate Dispatch    

In this issue

  • Sea Ice: Winter 2017- 2018
  • Alaska's Changing Snow
  • 2018 Susitna River Ice Jam Flood Impacts on the Alaska Railroad
  • Climate Review Nov '17–April '18
  • News & Events 

May 2018

Record Low Bering Sea Ice Extent    

The 2017-18 Bering Sea ice season drew to a close in May. Like each month since November, the monthly average extent was the lowest in the 40-year record maintained by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The average daily ice extent this month was only 7 percent of the 1981-2010 average. 

Early River Ice Break-up at Bethel    

Ice on the Kuskokwim River at Bethel went out on the evening of May 2. This ties for the tenth earliest break-up in the past 90 years and is in line with the trend for increasingly early break-ups.  

Record Warm Spring at St. Paul    

The average temperature at St. Paul March through May was 35.7°F (+2.1°C). This ties with 1979 and 1967 as the warmest spring of record. Climate observations have been made at St. Paul, with only a few breaks, since 1915.

Near Record Warm Spring at Utqiaġvik (Barrow)    

The average temperature for March through May at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) was 8.9°F (-12.8°C), This is more than five degrees (F) above normal and makes this the third mildest spring in the past 98 years. The only milder springs were in 1998 and 2016. 

Break-up Flooding Shuts Down Alaska Railroad    

Break-up flooding on the Susitna River north of Talkeetna shut down the Alaska Railroad from May 12 to 16. Flood waters and large chunks of ice, in some places, piled more than seven feet (2 meters) high moved about 1000' of track near Curry. With an estimated price tag of more than a million dollars, Alaska Railroad Corporation crews were able to repair the damage just in time for the start of the enhanced summer rail schedule. 

2018 Break-up of Tanana River at Nenana    

Break-up on the Tanana River at Nenana occurred on May 1 at 1:18pm AKST according to the official Nenana Ice Classic clock. This is very close to the average in recent years but would have been notably earlier than normal prior to the 1960s. 

April 2018

Late Season Snow in Southern Southeast    

Parts of southern Southeast Alaska had an late season snow on April 3. Ward Cove north of Ketchikan reported 6" accumulation, 5" in Ketchikan and Thorne Bay 2.5". 

Record Low Bering Sea Ice Extent    

Sea ice extent in the Bering Sea during April continued to decline during the month and was easily the lowest of record. The average sea extent for April of 146,000 km² was only 21% of the 1981-2010 average and less than half of the previous lowest April extent (in 1989). 

Heavy Snow Eastern Prince William Sound    

Heavy snow fell over parts of the Kenai Peninsula and western Prince William Sound on April 4. Main Bay (near Whittier) reported 15" (38cm) and Alyeska 10" (25"), while 11" (28cm) was reported just north of Seward. 

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.

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