May 2014 Statewide Summary

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

May 2014

 

Temperature

 

May 2014 temperatures were generally very warm across the state, with 17 of the 19 First Order Stations reporting positive deviations. Calculating the mean daily temperatures of the 19 stations (see Figure), 26 days of the month were above the 30-year normal. The month started out continuing the warmer than normal temperatures from April. After the 17th temperatures varied around normal for the remainder of the month. The peak deviation (10.9°F) occurred on the 2nd. The monthly mean temperature of all First Order Stations was 45.8°F, 3.0°F above the normal of 42.8°F. This is 5.9°F above the May of 2013 mean of 39.9°F. Kodiak held the greatest positive deviation from normal for May at a significant 6.0°F above its long-term mean of 44.3°F. Stations following Kodiak with positive deviations equal to or exceeding 5°F: Homer (5.7°F), and Barrow (5.2°F). Stations with negative deviations from normal: Nome (‑1.7°), and Bettles (-0.6°F).

 

The warmest temperature reported for the 19 First Order Stations was 78°F at King Salmon on the 16th. The coldest temperature was 12°F at Barrow on the 8th. Barrow also reported the lowest May mean temperature at 26.3°F, while Juneau reported the highest mean temperature for the month at 52.2°F.

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

52.1

47.8

4.3

Annette

51.6

50.2

1.4

Barrow

26.3

21.1

5.2

Bethel

43.9

41.9

2.0

Bettles

43.8

44.4

-0.6

Cold Bay

44.7

40.3

4.4

Delta Junction

49.3

47.6

1.7

Fairbanks

51.3

49.4

1.9

Gulkana

49.2

45.2

4.0

Homer

50.2

44.5

5.7

Juneau

52.2

48.6

3.6

King Salmon

48.9

44.2

4.7

Kodiak

50.3

44.3

6.0

Kotzebue

36.2

31.9

4.3

McGrath

49.0

46.7

2.3

Nome

35.1

36.8

-1.7

St. Paul Island

38.8

36.2

2.6

Talkeetna

51.0

47.8

3.2

Yakutat

47.1

44.7

2.4

 

 

 

Description: Description: First Order Temperature

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

 

A very large number of record temperature events were reported for May, and unsurprisingly, almost all were new record highs, with only two new lows noted. Almost all of the new high events were set by the 17th of the month, during the extended warm spell. Both record low events occurred during the last few days. King Salmon had a total of eight new record highs set or tied. Homer had six record high events. Cold Bay and Kotzebue had both high and low events. Kodiak had four high temperatures events, and five high minimum events. On 17th in Kodiak the low of 60°F was not only a new daily high minimum temperature, smashing the old record of 48°F from 1981, it is the highest low ever for the entire month of May for Kodiak.

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

05/01/14

Annex Creek

High Temperature

65

65

2005

05/01/14

Barrow

High Temperature

37

36

1967

05/01/14

Kotzebue

High Temperature

37

35

1960

05/01/14

McGrath

High Temperature

67

67

1995

05/01/14

Sitka

High Temperature

68

68

2009

05/01/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

66

62

1995

05/02/14

Anchorage

High Temperature

70

66

2009

05/02/14

Barrow

High Temperature

37

37

1967

05/02/14

Homer

High Temperature

64

64

1993

05/02/14

Kodiak

High Temperature

66

59

2003

05/02/14

McGrath

High Temperature

68

68

2004

05/02/14

Petersburg

High Temperature

69

69

2009

05/02/14

Sitka

High Temperature

71

71

2009

05/03/14

Anchorage

High Temperature

68

66

2009

05/03/14

Annex Creek

High Temperature

64

63

1960

05/03/14

Cold Bay

High Temperature

51

51

2004

05/03/14

Cordova

High Temperature

69

65

2004

05/03/14

Fairbanks

High Temperature

72

70

1995

05/03/14

Homer

High Temperature

63

62

2009

05/03/14

McGrath

High Temperature

69

68

2004

05/03/14

Petersburg

High Temperature

67

64

1991

05/03/14

Sitka

High Temperature

66

63

1963

05/03/14

St. Paul

High Temperature

45

45

2004

05/03/14

Talkeetna

High Temperature

70

67

2009

05/03/14

Valdez

High Temperature

61

61

2009

05/03/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

69

67

1997

05/04/14

Anchorage

High Temperature

66

65

2004

05/04/14

Delta Junction

High Temperature

65

65

1979

05/04/14

Homer

High Temperature

59

57

2004

05/09/14

Haines Airport

High Temperature

75

71

2005

05/09/14

Homer

High Temperature

67

64

2005

05/09/14

Juneau

High Temperature

73

73

2005

05/10/14

Anchorage

High Temperature

68

65

1954

05/10/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

67

63

2013

05/10/14

Kodiak

High Temperature

66

64

1940

05/11/14

Barrow

High Temperature

36

36

1968

05/11/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

72

68

1996

05/11/14

Sitka

High Temperature

47

47

1981

05/11/14

St. Paul

High Temperature

47

47

1981

05/12/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

73

71

1968

05/13/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

71

70

2009

05/14/14

Cold Bay

High Temperature

63

54

2009

05/14/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

72

69

2009

05/14/14

McGrath

High Temperature

73

70

1999

05/15/14

Annex Creek

High Temperature

68

64

1954

05/15/14

Cold Bay

High Temperature

61

56

1996

05/15/14

Homer

High Temperature

69

65

1942

05/15/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

73

68

1999

05/16/14

Gustavus

High Temperature

73

71

1942

05/16/14

Haines Airport

High Temperature

76

70

1981

05/16/14

Homer

High Temperature

68

62

1942

05/16/14

Juneau

High Temperature

75

68

1994

05/16/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

78

67

2002

05/16/14

Kodiak

High Temperature

66

60

1999

05/16/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

65

65

1994

05/17/14

Anchorage

High Temperature

73

69

2002

05/17/14

Auke Bay

High Temperature

73

69

1994

05/17/14

Haines Airport

High Temperature

74

72

1997

05/17/14

Juneau

High Temperature

72

72

1945

05/17/14

Kodiak

High Temperature

77

68

2002

05/17/14

Petersburg

High Temperature

69

66

1953

05/17/14

Port Alexander

High Temperature

73

61

1952

05/17/14

St. Paul

High Temperature

49

48

1989

05/17/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

68

66

1957

05/19/14

St. Paul

High Temperature

46

46

2004

05/22/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

68

68

2003

05/28/14

Kotzebue

Low Temperature

41

40

1938

05/31/14

Cold Bay

Low Temperature

28

31

1971

 

 

Precipitation

 

The overall precipitation calculated as the mean of the percentage deviations of the 19 stations, was exactly normal. Five of the First Order Stations, and ten days of the month, reported above normal values. Barrow's extreme deviation of 400% above normal balanced the majority of stations with lower than normal precipitation. The greatest daily deviation of 237% occurred on the 29th, during the wet end of the month. On a monthly basis, Barrow had the greatest positive deviation from normal, with a total of 0.90", or 500% of the expected amount of 0.18" (the highest May total on record). Following Barrow with values at or above normal were: Kotzebue (241%), King Salmon (163%), Nome (153%), and Homer (137%). Leading the stations with lower than normal precipitation totals were Fairbanks and Cold Bay with just 10%, and Delta Junction with 16% of normal, while Kodiak reported 21% of normal.

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

0.47

0.72

-0.25

-35%

65%

Annette

4.96

5.56

-0.60

-11%

89%

Barrow

0.90

0.18

0.72

400%

500%

Bethel

0.64

1.14

-0.50

-44%

56%

Bettles

0.85

0.88

-0.03

-3%

97%

Cold Bay

0.27

2.60

-2.33

-90%

10%

Delta Junction

0.14

0.90

-0.76

-84%

16%

Fairbanks

0.06

0.60

-0.54

-90%

10%

Gulkana

0.17

0.65

-0.48

-74%

26%

Homer

1.12

0.82

0.30

37%

137%

Juneau

1.67

3.40

-1.73

-51%

49%

King Salmon

2.04

1.25

0.79

63%

163%

Kodiak

1.19

5.62

-4.43

-79%

21%

Kotzebue

0.99

0.41

0.58

141%

241%

McGrath

0.92

1.09

-0.17

-16%

84%

Nome

1.32

0.86

0.46

53%

153%

St. Paul Island

0.71

1.13

-0.42

-37%

63%

Talkeetna

1.12

1.62

-0.50

-31%

69%

Yakutat

4.13

8.21

-4.08

-50%

50%

 

 

Description: Description: First Order Precipitation

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

 

 

The maximum monthly precipitation total reported for the First Order Stations was 4.96" at Annette, which also reported the highest daily total of 2.49" on the 22nd. The highest one-day snowfall occurred at Nome on the 6th with 1.3Ó, and Barrow reported the highest monthly snowfall of 5.1". Bettles topped the stations for the deepest snowpack of 7" on the 1st.

 

Due to the low precipitation for May for most stations, there were a very limited number of daily precipitation records, and most were set towards the end of the month. Sitka had the lowest May precipitation on record at 0.72", 0.07" lower than the 1945 record. Breaking the trend was Barrow, with a monthly total of 0.90", topping the 1933 record high precipitation of 0.81". Barrow had trace or more precipitation on 27 days of the month.

 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

05/06/14

McGrath

Precipitation

0.22

0.21

1988

05/12/14

Barrow

Precipitation

0.18

0.10

1982

05/15/14

Barrow

Precipitation

0.30

0.09

2004

05/22/14

Annette

Precipitation

2.49

1.89

1999

05/22/14

Ketchikan

Precipitation

3.17

2.15

1988

05/28/14

Bettles

Precipitation

0.14

0.10

1995

05/29/14

King Salmon

Precipitation

0.83

0.72

1999

05/29/14

McGrath

Precipitation

0.44

0.27

1946

 

 

Description: Description: funnyriver_oli_2014140_swir_lrg_small

This false color satellite image from the NOAA shows two pyrocumulonimbus clouds created by the Funny River Fire on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska on May 20th, 2014.

 

 

Newsworthy Events

 

Winter advisories were issued on the 5th for parts of northern Alaska. Also on the 5th low clouds at Anchorage Airport caused an Alaska Airlines flight to be diverted to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. On the 6th the Division of Forestry asked that logging roads use be limited until after breakup. An ice jam threatened the village of Circle for a short time on the 6th. For the most part, the break up this spring was quiet, unlike the previous year. The dry spring in the Southeast resulted in an unusual fire warning for the Tongass Forest on the 7th. In Juneau a warning of possible water shortages was given on the 11th, which was caused by the low precipitation. By the 12th, the shortage was severe enough, with the Salmon Creek Reservoir only a third full, that the cruise ships were cut off. While the acute shortage continued another ten days, residents were asked to conserve water for the rest of the month. Low water levels in the Nushagak River resulted in barges of building materials for a new school at Koliganek being turned back.

 

Pollen counts jumped off the charts in Anchorage on the 12th, a week behind Fairbanks, which had seen high values on the 5th. Counts then peaked again in Fairbanks on the 14th. The first wildfire near Fairbanks sprang up on the 12th, while a red flag warning was issued for the Interior due to dry conditions and high winds. Similar warnings were issued for much of southern Alaska the next day. The Denali Highway was fully open for traffic on the 15th. The same day saw a number of fires been fought across the Mat-Su area. Freezing temperature warnings were posted on the 19th for Southcentral.

 

A wind driven wildfire that started on the 19th had come within two miles of Tyonek, a village on the northwestern shores of Cook Inlet, by the 20th, and generated evacuations. The fire did jump the Chuitna River, and ran up against the village airstrip. Air tankers, helicopters and firefighters were on the scene. Thereafter, the fire shifted towards the small community of Beluga and a Chugach Electric power plant. With the change in direction, residents of Tyonek were allowed to return home. The fire did make a renewed push at Beluga the next day. Full containment was declared on the 28th. This fire competed with resources against the Funny River fire to the east on the central Kenai Peninsula.

 

The Funny River fire was a human caused fire that started on the 19th near the Soldotna Airport in the central Kenai Peninsula and quickly spread south through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to Tustumena Lake in just two days. Several evacuation orders were issued to communities on the fire's edge, but all were lifted by the 28th. Progress was reported on containment on the 29th, aided by light rain and higher humidity, as 760 fighters had managed to get 46% containment. The fire had reached over 300 square miles at that point, and burned four remote cabins. Depending on the wind direction, smoke from the fire blanketed Homer or Anchorage areas, and managed to reach all the way to the Interior on the 27th.

 

The rain allowed the lifting of the burn ban in Anchorage on the 30th, followed by the Kenai Peninsula on the 31st. The growing 100 Mile Creek Fire near Delta Junction hit 715 acres driven by the high winds on Saturday, having started on the 13th during a prescribed burn. To wrap up the month, snow was forecast, and received, in the mountains of Southcentral all the way south to Homer on the 31st. That storm brought flooding and avalanche threats for the Dalton highway. High winds of 40 to 60 mph across the Southcentral and Interior areas were reported, generating many power outages across the region. Up to 80 percent of customers in Anchorage experienced outages. It took two days to fully restore power in the Fairbanks vicinity. Twenty-three fires were reported due to the winds, mostly from dropping power lines, from Mat-Su to Tok, with 15 of them located in the Fairbanks area. Thankfully, all were quickly extinguished.

 

Description: Description: Alaska_amo_2014140_lrg

The smoke plume from the Funny River Fire is pulled hundreds of miles into the Gulf of Alaska by a cyclonic pattern on May 20th, 2014 in this image from NASA's Aqua satellite.

 

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 19 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.