December 2013 Statewide Summary

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

December 2013

 

Temperature

 

Temperatures were mixed spatially and temporally for December, with 16 of the days and eight of the 20 first order stations reporting above normal temperatures. Eleven stations came in with below normal temperatures and Kodiak reported no deviation from its normal temperature for December. The monthly mean temperature for all 20 First Order Stations was 14.9°F, the same as the normal. The most extreme deviation for the state this month occurred on the 6th at 14.1°F. Cold Bay held the highest positive deviation from normal at 6.9°F over its long-term mean of 31.1°F. This high deviation was fueled in part by ten daily record high events and twelve daily high minimums events. Following Cold Bay with positive deviations exceeding 4°F were: Barrow (5.3°F), Nome (4.9°F), Bethel (4.5°F), and St Paul (4.1°F). Stations with negative deviations from normal were greater than -4.0°F: Gulkana (‑4.8°), Delta Junction (‑4.7°F), Bettles (-4.5°F), Talkeetna (-4.5°F) and Anchorage (-4.3°F).

 

The warmest temperature reported for the 20 First Order Stations was 54°F at King Salmon on the 6th, a new daily record. The coldest temperature was -47°F at Bettles on the 26th during a cold snap. Cold Bay reported the highest mean temperature for the month at 38.0°F, while Bettles reported the coldest at -10.2°F.

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

14.7

19.0

-4.3

Annette

35.7

37.1

-1.4

Barrow

-2.5

-7.8

5.3

Bethel

14.9

10.4

4.5

Bettles

-10.2

-5.7

-4.5

Cold Bay

38.0

31.1

6.9

Delta Junction

-2.6

2.1

-4.7

Fairbanks

-4.5

-4.1

-0.4

Gulkana

-4.4

0.4

-4.8

Homer

24.2

27.1

-2.9

Juneau

27.6

29.9

-2.3

King Salmon

21.5

18.6

2.9

Kodiak

31.2

31.2

0.0

Kotzebue

5.9

2.3

3.6

McGrath

-1.2

-3.2

2.0

Nome

14.4

9.5

4.9

St. Paul Island

33.0

28.9

4.1

Talkeetna

11.5

16.0

-4.5

Valdez

22.7

26.0

-3.3

Yakutat

27.4

29.6

-2.2

 

 

 

Description: First Order Temperature

Daily mean temperature deviation from the normal temperature for the mean of the 20 first order stations for December 2013.

 

All of the record events this December were for high temperatures and no low events were reported. Most of the events occurred around the warm spell from the 4th to the 10th. Cold Bay pulled out all the stops with a total of ten high temperature events; seven of them in a row from the 3rd to the 9th. In addition, there were eleven high minimum temperature events from the 3rd to the 26th (not shown). This is simply an astounding number of record events for one station for one month. The new high temperature in Cold Bay of 53°F on both the 5th and 6th smashed the old records, both of 46°F from 2009.

 

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

12/03/13

Barrow

High Temperature

28

28

1972

12/03/13

Cold Bay

High Temperature

49

48

1979

12/04/13

Bethel

High Temperature

40

40

2009

12/04/13

Cold Bay

High Temperature

50

47

1978

12/05/13

Bethel

High Temperature

41

41

1972

12/05/13

Cold Bay

High Temperature

53

46

2009

12/06/13

Bethel

High Temperature

48

47

2009

12/06/13

Cold Bay

High Temperature

53

46

2009

12/06/13

King Salmon

High Temperature

54

48

2002

12/06/13

Kotzebue

High Temperature

37

36

2002

12/07/13

Barrow

High Temperature

30

30

1972

12/07/13

Bettles

High Temperature

35

33

1960

12/07/13

Cold Bay

High Temperature

47

46

1961

12/07/13

King Salmon

High Temperature

45

45

2005

12/07/13

Kotzebue

High Temperature

36

35

1960

12/08/13

Bettles

High Temperature

35

31

2005

12/08/13

Cold Bay

High Temperature

47

46

1994

12/09/13

Cold Bay

High Temperature

48

47

1961

12/10/13

Kodiak

High Temperature

47

46

1986

12/18/13

Cold Bay

High Temperature

45

44

1984

12/20/13

Cold Bay

High Temperature

46

45

1983

12/27/13

Cold Bay

High Temperature

45

45

1984

 

 

Precipitation

 

Precipitation for December exceeded the normal for the state, at 46% over the expected amount. A large portion of the deviation came from Barrow's extremely wet December. Removing Barrow from the list results in a mean deviation of just 92% of normal. The greatest daily deviation of 280% occurred on the 20th. Eleven of the 20 stations reported above normal values. Barrow had the greatest positive deviation from normal, with 1.17", or 736% above the expected amount of 0.14". This extremely high amount was helped by two new daily precipitation records on the 7th and 9th. Following Barrow with deviations at or above 50% were: Nome (86%), and Bethel (84%) and Annette (71%). Leading the stations with lower than normal precipitation was Valdez with just 31% of normal.

 

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

1.60

1.11

0.49

44%

144%

Annette

18.38

10.72

7.66

71%

171%

Barrow

1.17

0.14

1.03

736%

836%

Bethel

2.06

1.12

0.94

84%

184%

Bettles

0.55

0.92

-0.37

-40%

60%

Cold Bay

4.31

4.46

-0.15

-3%

97%

Delta Junction

0.20

0.38

-0.18

-47%

53%

Fairbanks

0.78

0.64

0.14

22%

122%

Gulkana

1.16

0.78

0.38

49%

149%

Homer

1.50

3.08

-1.58

-51%

49%

Juneau

8.52

5.84

2.68

46%

146%

King Salmon

1.13

1.23

-0.10

-8%

92%

Kodiak

4.45

8.73

-4.28

-49%

51%

Kotzebue

0.77

0.76

0.01

1%

101%

McGrath

1.45

1.29

0.16

12%

112%

Nome

2.01

1.08

0.93

86%

186%

St. Paul Island

3.19

2.25

0.94

42%

142%

Talkeetna

1.05

1.93

-0.88

-46%

54%

Valdez

2.54

8.24

-5.70

-69%

31%

Yakutat

9.68

16.28

-6.60

-41%

59%

 

 

Description: First Order Precipitation

Daily mean precipitation deviation from the normal for the 20 first order stations for December 2013.

 

 

Snowfall was only slightly above normal (9%) for the 16 stations that report snowfall.  As above, Barrow topped the stations with positive deviations at 274% above normal. Juneau also had a heavy snowfall month at 159% above normal. King Salmon came in on the low side with just 34% of the expected snowfall.

 

 

Station

Snowfall

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

23.1

16.7

6.4

38%

138%

Annette

3.4

8.1

-4.7

-58%

42%

Barrow

13.1

3.5

9.6

274%

374%

Bethel

7.3

11.4

-4.1

-36%

64%

Bettles

5.4

15.6

-10.2

-65%

35%

Cold Bay

7.3

12.6

-5.3

-42%

58%

Fairbanks

14.3

12.1

2.2

18%

118%

Juneau

40.4

15.6

24.8

159%

259%

King Salmon

3.2

9.5

-6.3

-66%

34%

Kodiak

11.6

13.8

-2.2

-16%

84%

Kotzebue

7.2

11.5

-4.3

-37%

63%

McGrath

17.4

20.2

-2.8

-14%

86%

Nome

18.4

14.5

3.9

27%

127%

St. Paul Island

5.5

12.1

-6.6

-55%

45%

Valdez

43.9

71.9

-28.0

-39%

61%

Yakutat

36.7

23.2

13.5

58%

158%

 

 

The maximum monthly precipitation total reported for the 20 First Order Stations was 18.38" at Annette, which also reported the highest daily total of 2.21" on the 11th. The highest one-day snowfall also occurred at Yakutat on the 19th with 13.3", while Valdez reported the highest monthly snowfall of 43.9". Valdez also topped the stations for the deepest snowpack of 40" on the 22nd.

 

A high number of daily record precipitation and snowfall events were set in December, occurring throughout the month and across the state from Annette to Barrow to St Paul. Almost a third were set during the storm on 11th hitting the Southeast. The record precipitation and snowfall in Barrow on the 7th broke records that had been in place since 1923. By the end of December, Valdez’s 2013 yearly precipitation total was 96.82", breaking the 1981 record of 93.30". Normal annual precipitation for Valdez is 69.03".


 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

12/04/13

St. Paul

Precipitation

0.69

0.44

1997

12/06/13

Kotzebue

Precipitation

0.34

0.14

2005

12/06/13

St. Paul

Precipitation

0.67

0.40

2011

12/07/13

Barrow

Precipitation

0.24

0.16

1923

12/07/13

Barrow

Snowfall

3.00

2.40

1923

12/09/13

Barrow

Precipitation

0.36

0.13

1967

12/09/13

Barrow

Snowfall

3.90

2.80

1967

12/11/13

Annette

Precipitation

2.21

1.21

1959

12/11/13

Annex Creek

Snowfall

17.00

13.00

1984

12/11/13

Annex Creek

Precipitation

2.48

1.41

2007

12/11/13

Auke Bay

Snowfall

7.70

6.30

1984

12/11/13

Auke Bay

Precipitation

1.68

0.69

2007

12/11/13

Juneau

Precipitation

1.24

1.04

2005

12/11/13

Ketchikan

Precipitation

5.04

2.30

1962

12/11/13

Sitka

Precipitation

2.60

1.63

1984

12/19/13

Annex Creek

Snowfall

11.40

11.20

1974

12/19/13

Yakutat

Snowfall

13.30

12.10

1999

12/20/13

McGrath

Snowfall

6.50

3.50

1977

12/20/13

McGrath

Precipitation

0.63

0.37

1990

12/20/13

Nome

Snowfall

6.40

3.80

2003

12/22/13

Anchorage

Snowfall

8.50

7.70

1967

12/22/13

Annex Creek

Precipitation

1.84

1.74

1943

12/22/13

Fairbanks

Snowfall

4.80

3.80

1989

12/22/13

Fairbanks

Precipitation

0.25

0.21

1989

12/22/13

Juneau

Precipitation

1.28

1.19

1953

12/25/13

Annette

Precipitation

1.69

1.01

1976

12/25/13

Annette

Precipitation

1.69

1.01

1976

 

 

 

Description: AHG_0

This radar image from the National Weather Service shows strong storm system affecting the Cook Inlet region on December 14, 2013. The storm generated record snowfall in the Anchorage area.

 

 

Newsworthy Events

 

The cold that started the month off resulted in air quality alerts being issued for Fairbanks and North Pole on the 1st and 2nd. The cold snap also caused localized flooding on the 3rd along Chester Creek in Anchorage as the creek froze from the bottom up in phenomena called 'anchor ice'; the result of cold snap and warm seasonal rains. The first warm spell hit on the 4th, and a freezing rain advisory was issued for Anchorage and Mat-Su areas. Most schools in the area were closed on the 5th, and the advisory was extended into the Interior including Fairbanks. Travel advisories were issued for Interior roads.

 

The 10th saw a change in weather that brought heavy snow to blanket the Interior with up to 5" of snow. Up to 6,000 households went without power again as the snow caused widespread outages in the Fairbanks area. An avalanche blocked the Dalton Highway from mile 243-245. High winds and drifting snow closed the Steese Highway on the 11th at Eagle Summit, and the winds generated more power outages with up to 4,500 again in the dark in the Fairbanks area. Also on the 11th strong storms impacting the Southeast generating record snowfall and precipitation events, and caused power outages for up to 600 homes. Snowy weather from the 13th to the 15th brought 13.5" of snow to Anchorage, including the record setting 8.5" on the 14th, and total of 26" in Girdwood area.

 

The cold spell around the 16th brought back the air quality alerts for Fairbanks and North Pole. Flooding started in the Butte area as cold and lack of snowfall caused minor channels that flow to the Matanuska River to freeze up. The 18th saw blizzard warning issued for the western Kenai Peninsula and Mat-Su areas. The fluffy snow on top of icy roads resulted in a high number of vehicle accidents. At the same time, winter storm warnings were dispensed for northern portions of the Southeast Panhandle and Bethel areas. The storm in the Southeast generated minor damage at the Gustavus ferry terminal and record snowfall in Yakutat and Annex Creek. Heavy snow loads resulted in the sinking of a few boats in the Juneau area.

 

The 23rd saw the Steese Highway at Eagle Summit closed again due to high winds and blowing snow. Temperatures dropped again and Fairbanks had its coldest day of the winter on the 26th at -41°F, while the lowest temperature that day was recorded at Chicken with a bone chilling -58°F. North Pole reported in at -48°F. The cold once again resulted in air quality alerts being issued for Fairbanks and North Pole. All the snowfall during the month generated elevated avalanche danger for the Chugach and Kenai Mountains at the end of the month.

 

This information consists of preliminary climatological data compiled by the Alaska Climate Research Center, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks. This summary is based on the 20 first order stations in Alaska operated by the National Weather Service. Extreme events of other stations are also mentioned. It should be noted that the new climate normals for the time period of 1981-2010 are applied for the calculations of the deviations, and they can be slightly different from the old normals (1971-2000), which were in use up until end of August 2011.