March 2015 Statewide Summary

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

March 2015

 

Temperature

The warm temperatures from the end of February continued into March 2015 with temperatures that were above normal for the first week followed by colder than normal temperatures for the next week. Thereafter, the last half of the month experienced above normal temperatures. Overall, it was a warmer than normal in Match with 17 of the 19 of the First Order Stations reporting positive deviations. Calculating the mean daily temperatures of the First Order Stations (see Figure), 24 days of the month were above the 30-year normal. The peak warm deviation, a high 12.2°F, occurred on the 6th and 7th of the month, while the coldest deviation was -15.0°F on the 14th. The monthly mean temperature of all First Order Stations was 22.5°F, 3.0°F above the normal of 19.5°F. This is 1.3°F above the March 2014 mean of 21.2°F. Homer held the greatest positive deviation from normal for March at a significant 6.8°F above its long-term mean of 29.9°F. Stations following Homer with positive deviations equal to or exceeding 5°F were: King Salmon (6.3°F), McGrath (6.0°F), Delta Junction (5.8°F), and Bethel (5.3°F). Nome (-3.8°F) and Kotzebue (-3.4°F) were the only stations with a lower than normal monthly mean temperature. 

The warmest temperature for the First Order Stations was 56°F reported at Annette on the 22nd and 27th. Annette also reported the highest mean temperature for the month at 43.9°F. The coldest temperature was ‑43°F at Bettles on the 14th. Barrow reported the lowest March mean temperature at -11.0°F.

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

29.7

26.6

3.1

Annette

43.9

39.7

4.2

Barrow

-11.0

-12.7

1.7

Bethel

20.5

15.2

5.3

Bettles

6.3

4.4

1.9

Cold Bay

34.3

30.1

4.2

Delta Junction

19.9

14.1

5.8

Fairbanks

15.5

11.4

4.1

Gulkana

18.5

15.6

2.9

Homer

36.7

29.9

6.8

Juneau

37.1

33.8

3.3

King Salmon

30.4

24.1

6.3

Kodiak

36.6

32.8

3.8

Kotzebue

-2.3

1.1

-3.4

McGrath

17.6

11.6

6.0

Nome

6.5

10.3

-3.8

St. Paul Island

26.8

24.8

2.0

Talkeetna

26.4

24.9

1.5

Yakutat

35.0

32.0

3.0

 

 

 

 

Description: First Order Temperature

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

 

As has been the case throughout this winter, a fair number of daily record temperature events were reported for March, and also like in the previous three months, all were new record highs, with no new lows noted. Most were reported during the warm spell in the second half of the month that set off a string of new highs across the state. Homer had five events set or tied. Anchorage, Bethel, King Salmon all experienced four events.

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

03/01/15

Haines Airport

High Temperature

48

43

2010

03/01/15

Yakutat

High Temperature

46

46

1963

03/02/15

Annette

High Temperature

53

50

2003

03/02/15

Bethel

High Temperature

42

41

2003

03/02/15

Homer

High Temperature

49

49

2003

03/02/15

St. Paul

High Temperature

40

40

1996

03/04/15

St. Paul

High Temperature

41

40

1980

03/05/15

Homer

High Temperature

48

45

1984

03/05/15

Kodiak

High Temperature

47

46

1996

03/05/15

Yakutat

High Temperature

45

45

2008

03/06/15

Homer

High Temperature

46

46

2013

03/06/15

St. Paul

High Temperature

42

41

1980

03/07/15

Kodiak

High Temperature

47

47

1984

03/17/15

Anchorage

High Temperature

49

49

1970

03/17/15

Homer

High Temperature

50

50

1944

03/17/15

King Salmon

High Temperature

49

49

2005

03/18/15

Homer

High Temperature

54

47

1981

03/19/15

King Salmon

High Temperature

51

50

1983

03/20/15

Bethel

High Temperature

46

44

1998

03/23/15

King Salmon

High Temperature

51

50

1941

03/24/15

Anchorage

High Temperature

48

47

1974

03/24/15

Bethel

High Temperature

47

46

1974

03/24/15

Port Alexander

High Temperature

51

50

2005

03/24/15

Skagway Airport

High Temperature

52

51

2006

03/25/15

Yakutat

High Temperature

53

51

1981

03/26/15

Fairbanks

High Temperature

52

48

1970

03/26/15

McGrath

High Temperature

47

46

1990

03/27/15

Anchorage

High Temperature

48

48

1996

03/27/15

Bethel

High Temperature

50

47

1954

03/28/15

Bettles

High Temperature

42

39

2010

03/29/15

Annette

High Temperature

53

51

1996

03/29/15

Bettles

High Temperature

42

40

1994

03/29/15

King Salmon

High Temperature

53

51

1996

03/30/15

Anchorage

High Temperature

49

49

1995

  

Precipitation

Breaking the dry trend from January, and February, March was wetter than normal, with the overall precipitation calculated as 17% above normal; this calculation was based on the mean of the deviations in percentage of the First Order Stations. Twelve of the First Order Stations and nine days of the month reported above normal values. This is relatively wetter than March in 2014 that had just 69% of normal. The greatest daily deviation of 479% occurred on the 7th, when a storm passed over the Southcentral and Interior portions of the state. On a monthly basis, Barrow had the greatest positive deviation from normal, with a total of 0.28", or 311% above the expected amount of 0.09". Other stations with precipitation greater than 130% of normal were: Fairbanks (196%), King Salmon (136%), Kodiak (136%) and Bettles (134%). Also, like January and February, the leading station with a lower than normal precipitation amount was McGrath with just 17% of normal. Other stations with less than 70% of their normal precipitation were: Delta Junction (61%), St Paul (64%), and Gulkana (67%).

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

0.77

0.60

0.17

28%

128%

Annette

10.08

8.05

2.03

25%

125%

Barrow

0.28

0.09

0.19

211%

311%

Bethel

0.50

0.71

-0.21

-30%

70%

Bettles

0.78

0.58

0.20

34%

134%

Cold Bay

3.15

2.70

0.45

17%

117%

Delta Junction

0.11

0.18

-0.07

-39%

61%

Fairbanks

0.49

0.25

0.24

96%

196%

Gulkana

0.20

0.30

-0.10

-33%

67%

Homer

1.42

1.65

-0.23

-14%

86%

Juneau

4.52

3.78

0.74

20%

120%

King Salmon

0.95

0.70

0.25

36%

136%

Kodiak

7.53

5.53

2.00

36%

136%

Kotzebue

0.53

0.44

0.09

20%

120%

McGrath

0.14

0.81

-0.67

-83%

17%

Nome

0.70

0.65

0.05

8%

108%

St. Paul Island

0.68

1.07

-0.39

-36%

64%

Talkeetna

1.22

1.05

0.17

16%

116%

Yakutat

10.42

11.04

-0.62

-6%

94%

 

 

Description: First Order Precipitation

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

 

 

The maximum monthly precipitation total reported for a First Order Stations was 10.42" at Yakutat; Annette reported the highest daily total of 2.23" on the 13th. The highest one-day snowfall occurred at Yakutat on the 12th with 9.2". Yakutat also reported the highest monthly snowfall of 27.5". Bettles reported the highest snow depth of 31” on the 7th.

 

There were a fair number of precipitation record events and almost all were set during the wetter, first third of the month.  The precipitation record in Nome on the 6th broke the old record that had been in place since 1926.

 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

03/02/15

Kodiak

Precipitation

1.68

0.88

1968

03/03/15

Barrow

Precipitation

0.10

0.08

1967

03/05/15

Juneau

Precipitation

0.70

0.63

2010

03/06/15

Bettles

Snowfall

3.60

3.50

1955

03/06/15

Kotzebue

Precipitation

0.18

0.15

1976

03/06/15

Kotzebue

Snowfall

1.70

1.50

1976

03/06/15

Nome

Snowfall

5.50

2.20

1954

03/06/15

Nome

Precipitation

0.45

0.24

1921

03/07/15

Anchorage

Precipitation

0.51

0.39

2006

03/07/15

Bettles

Snowfall

6.80

4.70

1991

03/07/15

Fairbanks

Snowfall

4.30

2.70

2012

03/07/15

Fairbanks

Precipitation

0.28

0.17

2012

03/08/15

Annex Creek

Precipitation

1.54

1.47

2012

03/08/15

Auke Bay

Precipitation

1.16

0.92

1982

03/14/15

Cold Bay

Snowfall

3.00

3.00

1964

03/16/15

Homer

Precipitation

0.72

0.50

1981

 

Snowfall was unsurprisingly light again in March, with eleven 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 80% of the expected amount. Annette reported no snowfall; normal amount for March is 6.9”. Bettles had the highest deviation at 173% of its expected amount with a total of 16.1". Mean snow depth was about 34% under the normal. The greater than 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. Anchorage is on track to have the least snowiest winter season on record with just 29.4" of snow. The current record is 30.4" from 1957-58. This was also the second least snowiest March on record for Anchorage, trailing March 1983 that recorded just a trace of snow. 

 

Station

Snowfall

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

0.2

9.9

-9.7

-98%

2%

Annette

0.0

6.9

-6.9

-100%

0%

Barrow

3.4

2.1

1.3

62%

162%

Bethel

6.8

8.2

-1.4

-17%

83%

Bettles

16.1

9.3

6.8

73%

173%

Cold Bay

5.6

13.0

-7.4

-57%

43%

Fairbanks

8.1

4.9

3.2

65%

165%

Juneau

9.9

11.6

-1.7

-15%

85%

King Salmon

0.3

6.4

-6.1

-95%

5%

Kodiak

1.5

11.3

-9.8

-87%

13%

Kotzebue

5.5

5.9

-0.4

-7%

93%

McGrath

5.2

11.3

-6.1

-54%

46%

Nome

8.8

8.9

-0.1

-1%

99%

St. Paul Island

9.4

8.0

1.4

18%

118%

Yakutat

27.5

28.4

-0.9

-3%

97%

 

 

Description: Figure 3

This water vapor satellite image from the National Weather Service shows a storm pushing into Interior and Southcentral Alaska on March 7th. The storm brought snow and rainfall to the region.

 

 

 

Newsworthy Events

March started off with several schools closed in the Mat-Su borough due to icy roads on the 4th and 5th. On the 5th, winter storm warnings for heavy snow were issued for the Southcentral, Interior and western Alaska areas until the 7th.  Chulitna reported 16 " from the storm. Also on the 5th, Hatcher pass was closed to motorized vehicles due to lack of snow. Then after the storm, avalanche warnings were issued for the pass and travel in the area was not advised. The storm resulted in the closure of the Steese Highway at Twelve Mile and Eagle Summits due to blowing snow and high winds.

The ceremonial start of the Iditarod slog dog race was held in Anchorage on the 6th with snow trucked in for the sleds as temperatures hovered around 40°F. The official restart on the 8th was moved to Fairbanks due to the lack of snow in Southcentral at much colder temperatures down in the teens. Colder temperatures returned across the state, and Fairbanks bottomed out at -37°F on the 15th

Volcanic dust and ash from the 1912 eruption of the Novarupta volcano on the Alaska Peninsula covered Kodiak area on the 12th due to high winds. Some flights were canceled. By mid month several bear sightings had been made in the Juneau area, and residents were warned that bears were stirring early. 

Blizzard warnings were issued for portions of the Kenai Peninsula on the 15th. This storm dumped up to two feet in the Turnagain Pass area and generated dangerous avalanche conditions. A number of human triggered avalanches were reported. Unsafe driving conditions were reported on the Dalton Highway on the 16th due to up to 8" of slush from an overflow of water from the Sagavanirktok River around mile 400. An ice dam was constructed to attempt to alleviate the situation and the problem persisted for the rest of the month when an ice jam broke on the 23rd, flooding the roadway again. Also around mid-month the winter moose hunt in Southwest Alaska was extended due to the warm winter. Temperature's soared in the Interior from bone-chilling cold during the second week of the month to near record warmth for the last half of the month. Cold nights and extra warm days resulted in difficult road conditions and increase in road accidents. Winter advisories were issued for Northwestern Alaska on the 20th.

Eaglecrest ski area near Juneau closed early for the season on the 22nd. The warm, dry weather combined with gusty winds prompted fire warnings for the Mat-Su valley area on the 24th, earlier than normal. These warnings were repeated on the 25th. Also on the 24th, snow removal began from the Park Road in Denali National Park. The clearing went quickly and the road was opened on the 31st. Record and near record warm temperatures were recorded for the southern portions of the state starting the week of the 23rd. By the end of the week, the exceptionally warm weather had created a bumper crop of Birch seeds in the Interior areas. The abundance of seeds has been attracting high numbers of birds that feed on them. Two pickup trucks and a bulldozer that tried to assist the trucks that went through the ice on the Kwethluck River on the 30th.

The month ended with blizzard conditions closing the northern portion of the Dalton Highway. This is in addition to the closure of the road near mile 400 as the overflow water from the Sagavanirktok River continued to be a problem.

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.