January 2014 Statewide Summary

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

January 2014

 

Temperature

 

January temperatures were decidedly above normal both across the state, and throughout the month with all 20 First Order Stations reporting positive deviations. The only three days with a negative divergence occurred around the 12th. Outside of those three days, temperatures stayed above normal, with the peak deviation (23.7°F) coinciding with the storm that impacted the Southcentral and Interior regions on the 23rd. This is an absolutely an amazing departure for an area as large as the State of Alaska. On the 22nd the National Weather Service calculated that Alaska, at an average temperature of 24°F, was warmer than the lower 48 states with an average of 22°F. The monthly mean temperature for all 20 First Order Stations was 24.6°F, a very significant 12.6°F above the normal of 12.0°F. Gulkana held the highest positive deviation from normal at an astounding 21.5°F over its long-term mean of ‑2.9°F. Following Gulkana with positive deviations exceeding 15°F were: McGrath (20.0°F), Bethel (19.4°F), King Salmon (18.6°F), Kotzebue (17.1°F), Delta Junction (16.5°F), Nome (16.1°F) and Fairbanks (15.5°F). It is worth noting that most of these stations were located in the Western and Interior portions of Alaska.

 

The warmest temperature reported for the 20 First Order Stations was 57°F at Homer on the 27th, a new daily record. The coldest temperature was -47°F at Bettles on the 13th during the short cold snap. Homer also reported the highest mean temperature for the month at 38.6°F, while Barrow reported the coldest at -6.2°F.

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

29.4

17.1

12.3

Annette

38.4

37.0

1.4

Barrow

-6.2

-13.4

7.2

Bethel

26.0

6.6

19.4

Bettles

3.5

-10.0

13.5

Cold Bay

37.5

28.2

9.3

Delta Junction

15.5

-1.0

16.5

Fairbanks

7.6

-7.9

15.5

Gulkana

18.6

-2.9

21.5

Homer

38.6

24.8

13.8

Juneau

36.6

28.3

8.3

King Salmon

34.8

16.2

18.6

Kodiak

36.8

30.5

6.3

Kotzebue

14.3

-2.8

17.1

McGrath

13.5

-6.5

20.0

Nome

21.3

5.2

16.1

St. Paul Island

29.8

25.1

4.7

Talkeetna

28.7

14.2

14.5

Valdez

30.9

23.7

7.2

Yakutat

36.0

28.1

7.9

 

 

 


Daily mean temperature deviation from the normal temperature for the mean of the 20 first order stations for January 2014.

 

An exceptionally large number of record temperature events were reported for January, and unsurprisingly, all were new record highs, with no new lows noted. Most were set around the 22nd to 24th, during the exceptional warm spell. However, records continued to be set up until the 29th. Homer had a total of eleven new records set or tied, with nine of those consecutive from the 20th to 28th. Bethel has eight events, with five in a row and Yakutat had six with all six uninterrupted from the 23rd to 28th. King Salmon had five record high events.

 

It was the warmest January on record for Homer, McGrath, and Cold Bay, while Talkeetna tied with 1981 for the warmest. It was the second warmest for Gulkana after 1981 and Juneau (1985). This was the third warmest January for Bethel after 1937 and 1929, Kotzebue (1985 and 1981), King Salmon (1985 and 1981). Talkeetna tied with 1981 for third warmest after 1905 and 1985. Anchorage also tied for third with 1985, after 1977 and 1981. It was the fourth warmest for Delta Junction and fifth for Bettles and Nome. Fairbanks had its fifth warmest in 106 years.

 

On the 27th the high was 47°F at Denali Park Headquarters which set a new daily high for any day in January for that station, breaking the January 7th value of 46°F from 1942. Nome's high of 51°F on the 27th is a new high for any day in January for Nome, breaking the old record of 46°F from the 7th in 1946. Also on the 27th, the low temperature in Nome of 38°F was the warmest low for any day in January. Juneau reported the warmest average low temperature on record with 33.5°F, breaking the old value of 33.3°F from 1981. On the 25th Kotzebue tied the record for the warmest low of 28°F, originally set way back in 1903. Port Alsworth hit a high of 62°F on 27th, tying the highest temperature ever recorded in Alaska in January.

 

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

01/02/14

Cold Bay

High Temperature

45

45

1974

01/06/14

Bethel

High Temperature

39

34

1993

01/07/14

Bethel

High Temperature

39

38

1988

01/07/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

43

43

1988

01/15/14

Homer

High Temperature

47

47

2009

01/16/14

Cold Bay

High Temperature

46

46

1963

01/17/14

Anchorage

High Temperature

46

46

1992

01/17/14

Cold Bay

High Temperature

45

44

1963

01/17/14

Homer

High Temperature

49

48

2003

01/17/14

Kodiak

High Temperature

46

45

1985

01/17/14

Petersburg

High Temperature

57

56

2009

01/17/14

Talkeetna

High Temperature

41

41

1981

01/18/14

Petersburg

High Temperature

57

57

2009

01/20/14

Bethel

High Temperature

40

38

1961

01/20/14

Homer

High Temperature

50

49

1937

01/20/14

Kodiak

High Temperature

45

45

1980

01/21/14

Homer

High Temperature

47

45

2013

01/22/14

Haines Airport

High Temperature

46

45

1981

01/22/14

Homer

High Temperature

50

47

2005

01/22/14

Juneau

High Temperature

47

45

1981

01/22/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

44

42

2013

01/22/14

Sitka

High Temperature

55

52

1968

01/22/14

Skagway Airport

High Temperature

48

46

1968

01/23/14

Anchorage

High Temperature

48

48

1977

01/23/14

Auke Bay

High Temperature

46

45

1985

01/23/14

Craig

High Temperature

51

48

2005

01/23/14

Delta Junction

High Temperature

50

44

1977

01/23/14

Gulkana

High Temperature

43

41

1981

01/23/14

Haines Airport

High Temperature

47

44

1987

01/23/14

Homer

High Temperature

53

51

1961

01/23/14

Juneau

High Temperature

48

47

1985

01/23/14

Ketchikan

High Temperature

51

51

1994

01/23/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

50

47

1963

01/23/14

Kotzebue

High Temperature

35

32

1950

01/23/14

Petersburg

High Temperature

49

48

1985

01/23/14

Port Alexander

High Temperature

49

46

1980

01/23/14

Skagway Power

High Temperature

49

42

1961

01/23/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

46

45

1952

01/24/14

Annex Creek

High Temperature

46

42

1977

01/24/14

Auke Bay

High Temperature

47

47

1978

01/24/14

Bettles

High Temperature

33

33

1981

01/24/14

Craig

High Temperature

52

49

1998

01/24/14

Delta Junction

High Temperature

48

48

1977

01/24/14

Gulkana

High Temperature

40

39

1977

01/24/14

Haines Airport

High Temperature

47

47

1978

01/24/14

Hollis

High Temperature

52

49

1998

01/24/14

Homer

High Temperature

51

47

1977

01/24/14

Juneau

High Temperature

48

45

1978

01/24/14

Port Alexander

High Temperature

46

45

1985

01/24/14

Skagway Airport

High Temperature

51

42

1961

01/24/14

Skagway Power

High Temperature

51

42

1961

01/24/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

48

43

1981

01/25/14

Bethel

High Temperature

44

41

1957

01/25/14

Craig

High Temperature

50

49

2003

01/25/14

Homer

High Temperature

55

46

2005

01/25/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

48

47

1963

01/25/14

Kodiak

High Temperature

43

43

1983

01/25/14

Kotzebue

High Temperature

36

36

1961

01/25/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

50

45

1993

01/26/14

Anchorage

High Temperature

46

42

2001

01/26/14

Bethel

High Temperature

47

43

1963

01/26/14

Homer

High Temperature

55

46

2005

01/26/14

McGrath

High Temperature

41

40

1975

01/26/14

Nome

High Temperature

45

43

1963

01/26/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

46

46

1983

01/27/14

Anchorage

High Temperature

50

45

1985

01/27/14

Annette

High Temperature

51

50

1995

01/27/14

Bethel

High Temperature

46

44

1963

01/27/14

Craig

High Temperature

56

52

2005

01/27/14

Homer

High Temperature

57

45

1985

01/27/14

Kotzebue

High Temperature

40

35

1957

01/27/14

Nome

High Temperature

51

40

1963

01/27/14

Sitka

High Temperature

57

49

1955

01/27/14

Skagway Airport

High Temperature

49

45

1984

01/27/14

Skagway Power

High Temperature

46

45

1961

01/27/14

Talkeetna

High Temperature

46

42

1926

01/27/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

48

47

1961

01/28/14

Bethel

High Temperature

43

42

1963

01/28/14

Homer

High Temperature

47

46

2003

01/28/14

Kotzebue

High Temperature

38

35

1957

01/28/14

Skagway Power

High Temperature

45

42

1961

01/28/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

44

44

1995

01/29/14

Bethel

High Temperature

41

41

2007

01/29/14

Cold Bay

High Temperature

46

45

1961

01/29/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

47

46

1994

 

 

Precipitation

 

Precipitation for January exceeded the normal for the state, at 66% over the expected amount. The greatest daily deviation of 466% occurred on the 16th. Seventeen of the 20 First Order Stations reported above normal values. Gulkana had the greatest positive deviation from normal, with a total of 1.79", or 289% above the expected amount of 0.46". This high deviation was aided by two new daily precipitation records set on the 16th and 23rd. Following Barrow with deviations at or above 100% of normal were: Talkeetna (118%), St. Paul (116%) and Valdez (111%). Leading the three stations with lower than normal precipitation was Fairbanks with just 38% of normal.

 

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

1.37

0.73

0.64

88%

188%

Annette

8.13

10.73

-2.60

-24%

76%

Barrow

0.18

0.13

0.05

38%

138%

Bethel

1.17

0.78

0.39

50%

150%

Bettles

1.54

0.81

0.73

90%

190%

Cold Bay

4.33

3.16

1.17

37%

137%

Delta Junction

0.43

0.31

0.12

39%

139%

Fairbanks

0.22

0.58

-0.36

-62%

38%

Gulkana

1.79

0.46

1.33

289%

389%

Homer

2.75

2.63

0.12

5%

105%

Juneau

10.15

5.35

4.80

90%

190%

King Salmon

1.75

1.02

0.73

72%

172%

Kodiak

14.30

8.29

6.01

72%

172%

Kotzebue

0.55

0.62

-0.07

-11%

89%

McGrath

1.60

1.09

0.51

47%

147%

Nome

1.57

0.94

0.63

67%

167%

St. Paul Island

3.41

1.58

1.83

116%

216%

Talkeetna

2.97

1.36

1.61

118%

218%

Valdez

13.90

6.58

7.32

111%

211%

Yakutat

24.98

13.66

11.32

83%

183%

 

 

Daily mean precipitation deviation from the normal for the 20 first order stations for January 2014.

 

 

Snowfall was below normal (77%) for 16 stations that report snowfall.  Twelve of these stations reported below normal values with Annette reporting the relatively lowest value at just 13% of normal. Bettles topped the stations with positive deviations at 65% above normal. The fact that snowfall is below normal while precipitation in general was above normal is a result of the much warmer than normal temperatures experienced across the state during January.

 

 

Station

Snowfall

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

9.2

11.3

-2.1

-19%

81%

Annette

1.0

7.6

-6.6

-87%

13%

Barrow

3.4

2.6

0.8

31%

131%

Bethel

7.5

9.6

-2.1

-22%

78%

Bettles

23.0

13.9

9.1

65%

165%

Cold Bay

5.0

14.1

-9.1

-65%

35%

Fairbanks

2.5

10.3

-7.8

-76%

24%

Juneau

4.7

27.7

-23.0

-83%

17%

King Salmon

10.6

10.2

0.4

4%

104%

Kodiak

5.1

13.0

-7.9

-61%

39%

Kotzebue

4.9

9.1

-4.2

-46%

54%

McGrath

14.9

15.7

-0.8

-5%

95%

Nome

12.2

12.7

-0.5

-4%

96%

St. Paul Island

18.2

12.6

5.6

44%

144%

Valdez

55.2

67.8

-12.6

-19%

81%

Yakutat

21.4

31.9

-10.5

-33%

67%

 

 

The maximum monthly precipitation total reported for the 20 First Order Stations was 24.98" at Yakutat, which also reported the highest daily total of 3.95" on the 23rd, a new daily record. The highest one-day snowfall also occurred at Valdez on the 14th with 12.5", also a new daily record, while Valdez also reported the highest monthly snowfall of 55.2", as well as topping the stations for the deepest snowpack of 51" on the 14th.

 

A fair number of daily record precipitation and a few snowfall events were set in January, centered on the middle of the month. Annex Creek reported a total of 3.85" on the 14th, and this is a new daily record for any day in January, breaking the old value of 3.38" from 1965. Juneau set a new monthly total precipitation record for January with 10.15", just topping the 1985 record of 10.13". Valdez reported a total precipitation 13.90", second only to January 2011 with 15.18". Daily records are presented in the table below.

 

 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

01/05/14

Yakutat

Precipitation

3.61

3.05

1977

01/12/14

King Salmon

Snowfall

2.50

1.70

2009

01/14/14

Annex Creek

Precipitation

3.85

3.00

2004

01/14/14

Auke Bay

Precipitation

1.51

1.30

2004

01/14/14

Juneau

Precipitation

2.10

1.31

2004

01/14/14

Port Alexander

Precipitation

3.51

2.76

2004

01/14/14

Skagway Power

Precipitation

0.52

0.24

1963

01/14/14

Valdez

Snowfall

12.50

11.80

2002

01/15/14

Anchorage

Precipitation

0.25

0.19

2006

01/16/14

Gulkana

Precipitation

0.56

0.37

1965

01/16/14

McGrath

Precipitation

0.54

0.25

1993

01/16/14

McGrath

Snowfall

5.40

3.20

1993

01/17/14

Bettles

Snowfall

5.60

4.50

1991

01/17/14

Bettles

Precipitation

0.34

0.18

1957

01/17/14

Kodiak

Precipitation

2.74

1.60

2000

01/17/14

Kotzebue

Precipitation

0.20

0.19

2002

01/18/14

Bettles

Snowfall

3.70

3.30

1960

01/18/14

Bettles

Precipitation

0.33

0.33

1960

01/22/14

Juneau

Precipitation

1.16

1.05

1968

01/22/14

Valdez

Precipitation

1.22

1.17

1991

01/23/14

Anchorage

Precipitation

0.50

0.15

2008

01/23/14

Auke Bay

Precipitation

1.02

0.42

1978

01/23/14

Gulkana

Precipitation

0.50

0.43

1989

01/23/14

Yakutat

Precipitation

3.95

2.05

1975


 

 


This radar image from the National Weather Service shows heavy rain system passing over the Fairbanks area on its way north on January 23, 2014. The storm generated freezing rain in the Fairbanks area.

 

 

Newsworthy Events

 

January started off quiet on the weather front. Light freezing drizzle (frizzle) was reported in Anchorage on the 12th, the offshoot of a larger storm that had moved through the Bering Sea region. Heavy rains (Pelican reported a total of 5.74”) on the 14th from a storm in the Southeastern portion of the state resulted in flood warnings and three landslides blocking roads on Prince of Wales Island; as well as knocking out Internet access for most of the island. A small landside at Sitka damaged a house. Several boats were sunk at Point Baker, as well as a larger boat off of Wrangle. A breakwater and float broke free from pilings at Gustavus.

 

The Steese Highway was closed at Eagle Summit on the 15th. The 16th saw heavy snowfall impacting the morning commute in Anchorage. Another storm resulted in freezing rain advisories for Anchorage and Fairbanks on the 17th, while high winds and drifting snow closed Eagle Summit again. Travel advisories were issued for portions of the Dalton and Elliott Highways. The warm weather and winds resulted in scattered power outages in the Fairbanks area. The severe weather continued in to the next day with freezing rain hitting the roads from the Alaska Range to north of Fairbanks, and blizzard conditions from there up into the Brooks Range.

 

Freezing rain warnings were issued for Anchorage for the 20th and 21st. The unseasonably warm weather prompted Alyeska Ski Resort to close for a couple days and avalanche advisories to be issued for areas of the Chugach National Forest. The 22nd saw the Dalton Highway impassable between miles 284 and 298 due to snowdrifts, and difficult driving conditions persist on the Parks Highway. Heavy rain struck Prince William Sound and portions of the Kenai Peninsula.

 

The 22nd saw the first sunrise in Barrow in 68 days. Fairbanks suffered through another freezing rain episode on the 23rd. After-school activities were canceled. The Fairbanks International Airport was closed for a few hours in the afternoon and bus service was suspended. The Mat-Su Borough also closed some schools as well. Schools were closed the next day in Fairbanks area, and UAF canceled classes. Schools were open in Mat-Su Borough, but some bus service was limited. The Northern Lights 300 sled dog race in Big Lake was canceled, as well as the Tustumena 200 scheduled for the following weekend. Ambulances and fire trucks were banned from the Big Lake ice road do to standing water on the ice. Snow machining was closed in portions of Denali National Park and a number of ski races were called off.

 

The biggest story of the month started on the 23rd, when several avalanches hit the Richardson Highway outside of Valdez, cutting the town off from the road system. The biggest, about a dozen miles from town, is considered the largest ever to hit a highway at up to 100 feet high and 1,000 to 1,500 feet long. The avalanche blocked the Lowe River leading into Keystone Canyon, generating a lake up to half a mile long, and hence was named ‘Damalanche’. The mass of water prevented road crews from safely approaching the avalanche to begin clearing it, and more than ten days later was still in place with the lake slowing draining through the snow and an old railroad tunnel. The threat of flooding from the lake generated evacuation notices for downstream subdivisions. One subdivision was caught between avalanches and had to have supplies airlifted. Extra flights and ferry sailings were added to provide the residents of the now isolated town a means of access.

 

Air quality alerts were put out for North Pole on the 30th, as well as for Anchorage area due to cold, dry conditions from all the ample road sanding. In addition, a rare winter wildfire advisory was issued for Mat-Su area. The continuing warm weather forced the officials for the Yukon Quest to move the race start and end locations, as well as re-route portions of the trail.

 

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.