July 2015 Statewide Summary

 

 

 

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

July 2015

 

Temperature

 

The warmer than normal temperatures that have existed throughout most of the winter and spring continued into July 2015 with temperatures that were above normal for 15 of the 19 First Order Stations. Calculating the mean daily temperatures of the First Order Stations (see Figure), 22 days of the month were above the 30-year normal. Temperatures started the month colder than normal until the 3rd, when warmer temperatures persisted until the 13th. Mixed temperatures were experienced for the next six days, followed by lightly warmer than normal temperatures for six more days. The end of the month went back to mixed temperatures again. The peak warm deviation, a high of 7.5°F, occurred on the 6th, while the coldest deviation, a mild ‑1.1°F occurred on the 19th. The monthly mean temperature of all First Order Stations was 56.8°F, 1.3°F above the normal of 55.5°F. This is 1.1°F above the July 2014 mean of 55.7°F. On a monthly basis, statewide temperatures have been above normal since July 2014. Kotzebue held the greatest positive deviation from normal at 4.1°F above its long-term mean of 54.6°F. Stations following Kotzebue with positive deviations exceeding 2°F were Annette (3.4°F), Kodiak (2.9°F), Nome (2.7°F), St Paul (2.1°F).

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

59.9

58.8

1.1

Annette

62.0

58.6

3.4

Barrow

40.5

40.9

-0.4

Bethel

56.9

56.1

0.8

Bettles

60.7

59.7

1.0

Cold Bay

51.9

50.9

1.0

Delta Junction

59.5

60.2

-0.7

Fairbanks

62.2

62.5

-0.3

Gulkana

58.9

57.6

1.3

Homer

56.1

54.6

1.5

Juneau

57.6

56.9

0.7

King Salmon

57.4

55.5

1.9

Kodiak

57.4

54.5

2.9

Kotzebue

58.7

54.6

4.1

McGrath

59.0

60.0

-1.0

Nome

54.9

52.2

2.7

St. Paul Island

49.3

47.2

2.1

Talkeetna

59.7

60.1

-0.4

Yakutat

56.0

54.3

1.7

 

The highest temperature of the First Order Stations was 89°F reported at Fairbanks on the 6th of the month. Fairbanks also held the spot for the highest mean temperature for the month at 62.2°F, despite being slightly colder than normal. The coldest temperature was 31°F at Barrow on the 28th and 30th, while Barrow also reported the lowest July mean temperature at 40.5°F.

 

 

 

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

 

As has often been the case throughout this last winter and spring, the daily record temperature events for July were nearly all high events, with just one record low event reported in Bettles on the 4th. Most of the limited number of high events reported were experienced during the warm period around the 6th.

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

07/03/15

Homer

High Temperature

68

67

1990

07/04/15

Bettles

Low Temperature

37

39

2013

07/05/15

Annette

High Temperature

85

82

1958

07/05/15

Barrow

High Temperature

64

61

1940

07/06/15

Annette

High Temperature

88

81

1958

07/06/15

Delta Junction

High Temperature

87

84

1986

07/06/15

Gulkana

High Temperature

86

84

1972

07/06/15

Kotzebue

High Temperature

79

77

2014

07/06/15

Northway

High Temperature

84

81

1989

07/07/15

Annette

High Temperature

87

85

1975

07/20/15

Cordova

High Temperature

78

78

1972

 

 

 

 

Precipitation

 

July was just slightly wetter than normal, with the overall precipitation calculated as 7% above normal; this calculation was based on the mean of the deviations in percentage of the First Order Stations. Nine of the First Order Stations and 18 days of the month reported above normal values. This is drier than July in 2014, which had a precipitation total 24% above normal. The greatest daily deviation of 120% occurred on the 17th, driven by rain experienced across much of the state. Zero days of the month had no measureable precipitation at all of the 19 first order stations. On a monthly basis, Juneau had the greatest positive deviation from normal, with a total of 10.40", or 126% above the expected amount of 4.60". The only other two stations with precipitation greater than 50% above normal were Annette (64%) and McGrath (62%). The leading station with a lower than normal precipitation amount was Barrow with just 22% of normal. The only other station with less than half of their normal precipitation was Kotzebue with 24%.

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

2.53

1.83

0.70

38%

138%

Annette

7.64

4.65

2.99

64%

164%

Barrow

0.22

0.98

-0.76

-78%

22%

Bethel

2.08

2.36

-0.28

-12%

88%

Bettles

1.96

2.36

-0.40

-17%

83%

Cold Bay

2.47

2.48

-0.01

0%

100%

Delta Junction

3.13

2.68

0.45

17%

117%

Fairbanks

2.78

2.16

0.62

29%

129%

Gulkana

1.46

1.81

-0.35

-19%

81%

Homer

1.22

1.55

-0.33

-21%

79%

Juneau

10.40

4.60

5.80

126%

226%

King Salmon

3.11

2.30

0.81

35%

135%

Kodiak

3.32

4.93

-1.61

-33%

67%

Kotzebue

0.35

1.45

-1.10

-76%

24%

McGrath

3.86

2.38

1.48

62%

162%

Nome

1.44

2.11

-0.67

-32%

68%

St. Paul Island

1.84

1.85

-0.01

-1%

99%

Talkeetna

3.49

3.39

0.10

3%

103%

Yakutat

11.81

7.88

3.93

50%

150%

 

 

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

 

 

The maximum monthly precipitation total reported for a First Order Station was 11.81" at Yakutat, while Annette reported the highest daily total of 2.16" on the 24th, a new record for this specific day.

 

As might be expected, there were a fair number of daily precipitation records, and they were set throughout the month and across the state. Despite only setting one daily record, Juneau had the wettest July on record with a total of 10.4", 0.04" above the old record from 1997. This monthly record was driven by precipitation on 26 days of the month and seven of those were greater than half inch. This comes after the wettest January, as well as the driest May, on record for Juneau. With the exception of May, all months this year have had above normal precipitation at Juneau. This makes 2015 the second wettest stretch from January to July with 42.88", 0.41" behind the 43.29" from 1992 for this time period. It was the second wettest July on record for Sitka with 9.55"; the record is 12.27" from 1959.

 

 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

07/01/15

Haines Airport

Precipitation

0.56

0.55

1942

07/06/15

Kodiak

Precipitation

1.37

1.05

2008

07/08/15

Bettles

Precipitation

0.57

0.49

2012

07/13/15

Yakutat

Precipitation

1.62

1.43

1968

07/17/15

Sitka

Precipitation

1.48

1.25

1950

07/19/15

Sitka

Precipitation

1.09

0.92

2000

07/23/15

Juneau

Precipitation

2.00

1.14

2000

07/24/15

Annette

Precipitation

2.16

1.92

1995

07/28/15

McGrath

Precipitation

0.70

0.48

2014

 

 

Newsworthy Events

 

Wildfires dominated the news at the start of July with the State allowing campfires at select state parks in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough area on the 2nd. Fireworks bans from June were still in effect. No new fires that were the result of fireworks were reported during the weekend of the 4th. The Fairbanks North Star Borough would not end up lifting its ban on fireworks until the 28th. Dense smoke advisories were issued for areas west of Fairbanks on the 4th. The air quality in Fairbanks area dropped to unhealthy conditions again on the 5th, while warmer temperatures were predicted for the Interior helping fuel the nearly 300 fires burning at the time; 36 of them staffed. Voluntary evocation orders were still in effect at Tanana, with several fires surrounding the village generating hazardous conditions. Progress was reported on containing fires across the state including the Rex Complex fires near Nenana, Healy Lake near Delta Junction at 63% contained, West Fork Fire (100%) and Anaconda (68%) both near Chena Hot Springs. Nearly 500 fighters were working the Aggie Fire near the Elliott Highway north of Fairbanks that had grown to 13,000 acres and was expected to increase in size with the warmer weather.

 

The hot, dry, weather on the 6th did, as predicted, push the wildfires to new extremes. Air quality again dropped to hazardous levels for many Interior areas. The silver lining in the cloud of dense smoke that permeated the Interior was that it helped reduce temperatures over the next few days. By the 7th, the Aggie Creek fire had jumped to 17,000 acres and more personnel (600), as well as air tankers, were assigned. Some evacuations were recommended in the area. One of the Rex complex fires cropped a power line near mile 290 of Parks Highway, killing power to the Anderson School and the incident command post. The Baker fire moved to one and half miles of the Elliot Highway. Similar problems with aggressive behavior were reported at a number of the staffed fires in the Interior. Air quality continued to be hazardous in the Fairbanks area and a number of activities were canceled. The Borough Parks & Recreation canceled all outdoor activities, and youth soccer and softballs games were scrapped, and the Holland-America Tour Company canceled its Interior flight seeing tours due to the smoke. Total acreage burned exceeded three million acers at this point.

 

This map of Alaska shows the wildfire perimeters at the end of July 2015. Data courtesy of the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

 

The Aggie Creek fire had topped 26,000 acres on the 10th, and the fire had moved to within a half a mile of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. A number of efforts were used to protect the pipeline. The fire was reported at 25% contained at that point, and the number of personnel assigned to the fire had dropped to about 400. The Nome Creek Valley reopened to camping again on the 11th as wildfire danger dropped due to the rain, then closed again on the 13th due to the U.S. Creek Fire. The fires around Tanana were still listed as quite active, and had topped 500,000 acres in total and more than 250 fighters were assigned to the fires. Eighty-six personnel were assigned to the Long Lake fire (25,000 acres) near Northway. The 75,000 acres Hay Slough fire near Manley threatened mining and structures, while the nearby Baker fire grew to over 20,000 acres. Total area burned had reached 4.69 million acres on the 13th, with 300 active wildfires; the fifth worst season on record. Wildfire growth slowed across the region on the 16th due to the wetter weather. Totaling the efforts, more than 2,000 firefighters from Alaska had been joined by 3,500 from the Lower 48.

 

High wind warnings for gusts up to 65 mph were issued for areas of Anchorage on the 16th. The 19th saw heavy rain (between one and one and a half inches) forecasted for the Chena, Chatanika and Salcha Rivers, as well as Arctic Village and areas east. High water warnings were issued on the 19th for the central and eastern Brooks Range from the heavy rainfall. Wildfire generated smoke worsened the air quality in the Fairbanks area again on the weekend of the 25th. Heavy rain, a ’50-year rainfall event’ that same weekend in Anchorage resulted in localized flash flooding, the closure of some streets with up to two feet of water on them, and the evacuation of about 30 people from an apartment complex. A weather station at Lake Otis and O’Malley reposted 2.56" of rainfall during the event, with the Anchorage International Airport reporting 1.05".

 

Description: ICEPICK:gi:Monthly Summaries:2015:07:Figure 3.jpg

This water vapor satellite image from the National Weather Service for the 25th of July shows the weather pattern the resulted in heavy rainfall and localized flooding in Anchorage.

 

The warmer, drier weather regime that had started around the 19th resulted in some increased fire activity by the 26th. Smoke returned to the Fairbanks area. The total area burned for the summer had reached 4.8 million acres, the fourth-highest summer on record and larger than the state of Connecticut. And seven new fires were started by lighting on the 24th, but none were deemed serious and only one needed to be fought. The total burned by the end of the month was 4.9 million acres. The slowing fires allowed the number of personnel staffing the various fires to drop to about 1,600 that weekend, half the number at the peak a few weeks ago. Lower 48 crews were sent back south as heavy rains were again forecasted for portions of the Interior on the 27th. Salcha recorded more than two inches of precipitation A small stream flood advisory was issued for the Eastern Alaska Range. The Taiya River near Skagway had risen to near its banks by the 27th from persistent rain in the area. The damp conditions resulted in dense fog advisories for the areas of the Alaska Range and Interior on the 28th and 29th. The morning of the 30th saw heavy rains in the Anchorage area again.

 

 

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.