January 2015 Statewide Summary

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

January 2015

 

Temperature

 

The warm trend from December continued into January 2015 with temperatures that were above normal across the state, with 18 of the 19 of the First Order Stations reporting positive deviations. Calculating the mean daily temperatures of the First Order Stations (see Figure), 18 days of the month were above the 30-year normal. The peak warm deviation, an extreme 18.4°F, occurred on the 15th of the month, while the coldest deviation was -13.6°F on the 26th. The monthly mean temperature of all First Order Stations was 15.0°F, 3.6°F above the normal of 11.4°F. This is 9.6°F below the January 2014 mean of 24.6°F. Juneau held the greatest positive deviation from normal for January at a significant 6.8°F above its long-term mean of 28.3°F. Stations following Juneau with positive deviations equal to or exceeding 5°F were: Kotzebue (6.7°F), Homer (5.9°F), Kodiak (5.8°F), Annette (5.1°F), and St Paul (5.0°F). Bettles (-2.5°F) was the only station with a less than normal monthly mean temperature.

 

The warmest temperature for the First Order Stations was 52°F reported at Annette on the 18th. Annette also reported the highest mean temperature for the month at 42.7°F. The coldest temperature was -56°F at Bettles on the 26th and 27th. Bettles also reported the lowest January mean temperature at -12.5°F.

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

19.4

17.1

2.3

Annette

42.1

37.0

5.1

Barrow

-10.3

-13.4

3.1

Bethel

8.1

6.6

1.5

Bettles

-12.5

-10.0

-2.5

Cold Bay

31.0

28.2

2.8

Delta Junction

1.7

-1.0

2.7

Fairbanks

-6.5

-7.9

1.4

Gulkana

-0.5

-2.9

2.4

Homer

30.7

24.8

5.9

Juneau

35.1

28.3

6.8

King Salmon

21.1

16.2

4.9

Kodiak

36.3

30.5

5.8

Kotzebue

3.9

-2.8

6.7

McGrath

-5.4

-6.5

1.1

Nome

9.2

5.2

4.0

St. Paul Island

30.1

25.1

5.0

Talkeetna

16.3

14.2

2.1

Yakutat

35.3

28.1

7.2

 

 

 

Description: First Order Temperature

Daily mean temperature deviation from the normal temperature for the mean of the first order stations for January 2015.

 

As in December and November, a fair number of daily record temperature events were reported for January, and also like December and November, all were new record highs, with no new lows noted. Most were reported in the Southeast during the second half of the month. Hollis (located in the Southeast on Prince of Wales Island) had five new and tied record events.

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

01/08/15

Homer

High Temperature

51

45

1942

01/08/15

King Salmon

High Temperature

48

44

1955

01/09/15

King Salmon

High Temperature

45

44

1955

01/09/15

Nome

High Temperature

35

34

1937

01/12/15

Cold Bay

High Temperature

43

43

1985

01/12/15

St. Paul

High Temperature

40

40

2005

01/12/15

Yakutat

High Temperature

45

44

1986

01/13/15

Craig

High Temperature

50

48

2010

01/13/15

Hollis

High Temperature

44

43

2010

01/13/15

Yakutat

High Temperature

47

47

1981

01/14/15

Craig

High Temperature

51

50

2014

01/14/15

Hollis

High Temperature

47

47

2014

01/21/15

Hollis

High Temperature

47

46

2005

01/22/15

Haines Airport

High Temperature

48

46

2014

01/22/15

Hollis

High Temperature

49

47

2014

01/22/15

Juneau

High Temperature

48

47

2014

01/22/15

Skagway Airport

High Temperature

49

49

2014

01/24/15

Annette

High Temperature

51

50

2006

01/24/15

Annex Creek

High Temperature

45

42

1977

01/24/15

Auke Bay

High Temperature

44

43

1978

01/24/15

Haines Airport

High Temperature

44

43

1989

01/24/15

Hollis

High Temperature

47

45

1992

01/24/15

Ketchikan

High Temperature

52

52

1943

01/24/15

Petersburg

High Temperature

49

46

2013

01/24/15

Port Alexander

High Temperature

47

46

2014

01/24/15

Skagway Airport

High Temperature

46

45

1926

01/25/15

Haines Airport

High Temperature

44

43

1989

01/25/15

Juneau

High Temperature

44

44

1983

01/25/15

Ketchikan

High Temperature

49

49

1961

01/25/15

Petersburg

High Temperature

49

46

2013

01/25/15

Skagway Airport

High Temperature

46

45

1926

 

 

Precipitation

 

January was a little drier than normal, with the overall precipitation calculated as 8% below normal; this calculation was based on the mean of the deviations in percentage of the First Order Stations. Thirteen of the First Order Stations and 19 days of the month reported below normal values. This is in contrast to the wet January in 2014 that had 66% more precipitation than normal. The greatest daily deviation of 167% occurred on the 22nd, when a storm passed over much of Southeast. On a monthly basis, Gulkana had the greatest positive deviation from normal, with a total of 1.12", or 143% above the expected amount of 0.46". Other stations with precipitation greater than 100% of normal were: Juneau (224%), Barrow (200%), Annette (137%) and Kodiak (122%). Leading the stations with lower than normal precipitation totals was McGrath with just 25% of normal. Other stations with less than a 50% of their normal precipitation were: Fairbanks (26%), Bettles (40%), and Cold Bay (45%).

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

0.37

0.73

-0.36

-49%

51%

Annette

14.71

10.73

3.98

37%

137%

Barrow

0.26

0.13

0.13

100%

200%

Bethel

0.51

0.78

-0.27

-35%

65%

Bettles

0.32

0.81

-0.49

-60%

40%

Cold Bay

1.41

3.16

-1.75

-55%

45%

Delta Junction

0.18

0.31

-0.13

-42%

58%

Fairbanks

0.15

0.58

-0.43

-74%

26%

Gulkana

1.12

0.46

0.66

143%

243%

Homer

1.85

2.63

-0.78

-30%

70%

Juneau

11.98

5.35

6.63

124%

224%

King Salmon

0.52

1.02

-0.50

-49%

51%

Kodiak

10.13

8.29

1.84

22%

122%

Kotzebue

0.36

0.62

-0.26

-42%

58%

McGrath

0.27

1.09

-0.82

-75%

25%

Nome

0.71

0.94

-0.23

-24%

76%

St. Paul Island

1.20

1.58

-0.38

-24%

76%

Talkeetna

1.10

1.36

-0.26

-19%

81%

Yakutat

14.02

13.66

0.36

3%

103%

 

 

Description: First Order Precipitation

Daily mean precipitation deviation from the normal for the first order stations for January 2015.

 

 

The maximum monthly precipitation total reported for the First Order Stations was 14.71" at Annette, and Annette also reported the highest daily total of 2.25" on the 20th. The highest one-day snowfall occurred at Juneau on the 28th with 6.0". Juneau also reported the highest monthly snowfall of 15.1". Bettles reported the highest snow depth at 19" on the 22nd.

 

Given the general slightly lower than normal precipitation record in January, it's not surprising there were a very limited number of precipitation record events during the month, and most were set in the Southeast during the storm of the 21st to 22nd. Ketchikan, not a First Order Station, received a total of 5.56" on the 20th, a new daily record, and another 4.68" on the 21st, also a new record. For the month, Ketchikan totaled 31.01", more than twice the normal amount.

 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

01/01/15

Auke Bay

Precipitation

1.02

1.00

1989

01/01/15

Juneau

Precipitation

1.38

0.73

1985

01/09/15

Bethel

Precipitation

0.31

0.31

1955

01/15/15

Haines Airport

Precipitation

1.26

1.04

2007

01/16/15

Nome

Snowfall

4.0

3.90

1995

01/20/15

Juneau

Precipitation

1.23

1.20

1948

01/20/15

Ketchikan

Precipitation

5.56

4.14

1948

01/21/15

Annette

Precipitation

2.07

1.86

1955

01/21/15

Barrow

Snowfall

2.0

1.10

1991

01/21/15

Barrow

Precipitation

0.07

0.05

1991

01/21/15

Craig

Precipitation

3.25

0.89

1953

01/21/15

Hollis

Precipitation

3.05

0.75

2005

01/21/15

Juneau

Precipitation

1.98

1.33

1988

01/21/15

Ketchikan

Precipitation

4.68

3.47

1926

01/27/15

St. Paul

Snowfall

5.9

2.00

2007

 

Snowfall was unsurprisingly light, with 13 of the First Order Stations that measure snowfall reporting below normal amounts. Based on the mean of the deviations from all 15 stations, the overall deviation from the normals was just 50% of the expected amount. King Salmon reported the lowest amount at 0.7", just 7% of its normal. Barrow had the highest deviation at 177% of its expected amount with a total of 2.6". Mean snow depth was about 60% under the normal. The near normal amount of precipitation, but deficiency in snowfall and resulting snow cover is, of course, due to the warmer weather, resulting in a higher percentage of the precipitation falling as rain instead of snow.

 

 

Station

Snowfall

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

5.9

11.3

-5.4

-48%

52%

Annette

3.3

7.6

-4.3

-57%

43%

Barrow

4.6

2.6

2.0

77%

177%

Bethel

1.2

9.6

-8.4

-88%

13%

Bettles

6.1

13.9

-7.8

-56%

44%

Cold Bay

1.5

14.1

-12.6

-89%

11%

Fairbanks

4.6

10.3

-5.7

-55%

45%

Juneau

15.1

27.7

-12.6

-45%

55%

King Salmon

0.7

10.2

-9.5

-93%

7%

Kodiak

4.2

13.0

-8.8

-68%

32%

Kotzebue

3.4

9.1

-5.7

-63%

37%

McGrath

5.9

15.7

-9.8

-62%

38%

Nome

10.4

12.7

-2.3

-18%

82%

St. Paul Island

14.2

12.6

1.6

13%

113%

Yakutat

1.7

31.9

-30.2

-95%

5%

 

 

Description: Figure 3

This water vapor satellite image from the National Weather Service shows a storm pushing into Southeast Alaska on January 21st.

 

 

 

Newsworthy Events

 

January started off with high Taku winds, with gusts up to 78 mph in Douglas Harbor, creating minor property damage in the Juneau area on the 4th. Minor power outages were also reported. North Pole reported its worst air quality on the 5th with a strong inversion in place trapping cold air. The 8th and 9th saw freezing rain forecast for the Southcentral and Southwest areas of the State. High wind warnings were issued for areas of the Interior and Northern Alaska on the 8th. Freezing rain hit Alaska Range roads on the 13th, cancelling school busses in the Healy area. The Parks Highway was also blocked in the Healy area due to stranded semi-trucks. Stretches of the Parks Highway through the Alaska Range were described as Ôvery difficultÕ while similar portions of the Richardson Highway were described as ÔdifficultÕ to travel. Areas of the Interior to the north received snowfall.

 

By mid-month the continuing warm winter forced the delay of the Tustumena 200 sled dog race by two weeks to the end of February. A bulldozer was needed to clear ice jams from the Kuskokwim River created during winter thaws from late last year to clear a trail needed for the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race. Anchorage residents were warned of slick road conditions on the 15th. The Eaglecrest ski area in Juneau was closed due to warm weather and rain on the 15th and 16th, then closed again on the 19th until more snow was on the ground. Treacherous road conditions had developed in the Fairbanks area on the 19th.

 

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warning across the Southeast on the 19th and widespread landslide warnings on the 20th due to the heavy rain from the storm. Heavy snow was reported in the passes in the region; White Pass totaled more than 14". On the 21st flood advisories were issued for small streams to rise to minor flood stage. Ketchikan received more than 10" of rain in just 40 hours during the storm, and the Ketchikan Dam was monitored for signs of failure as water topped the dam. The record setting rain turned the Ketchikan Creek into a raging torrent and minor flooding prompted some residents to be evacuated from the area. The heavy rains prompted the Juneau Harbor to advise boat owners to check their vessels for safety and a small mudslide dumped onto the Glacier Highway. The Klondike Highway was closed on the 22nd due to rockslides.

 

The Southcentral region was forecast to get its heaviest snowfall of the winter on the 22nd and 23rd. Talkeetna had over a foot of new snow from the event. The snow continued into that weekend. Winter Storm warnings were then issued for the Interior as the storm pushed north. After that last storm, the Interior got its first true cold snap of the winter over the last week of the month, with temperatures dropping to ‑48°F at the Fort Wainwright Airport, while Granite Creek near Delta Junction bottomed out at -55°F. The cold snap was not limited to the Interior and crept down to the Southcentral region. Anchorage officially dropped to -1°F on the 25th, for a total of 394 days above 0°F. This was the second longest streak in AnchorageÕs history, far short of the 683 days from Jan 18th, 2000 and Nov 20th, 2001. The cold spell in much of the state at this time was balanced by record warm temperatures in the Southeast. Temperatures again turned cool in the Southeast during the last part of the month, and heavy snowfall forced the Juneau busses to switch to winter routes.

 

This information consists of preliminary climatological data compiled by the Alaska Climate Research Center, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks. For more information on weather and climatology, contact the center at 907-474-7885 or visit the center web site at http://akclimate.org. Please report any errors to webmaster@akclimate.org. 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.