May 2015 Statewide Summary

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

May 2015

 

Temperature

 

The warmer than normal temperatures that have existed throughout most of the winter continued into May 2015 with temperatures that were above normal for all 19 First Order Stations. Calculating the mean daily temperatures of the First Order Stations (see Figure), 30 days of the month were above the 30-year normal. The only day with a negative deviation was the first. The peak warm deviation, a high of 7.9°F, occurred on the 15th of the month. The monthly mean temperature of all First Order Stations was 47.8°F, a significant 5.0°F above the normal of 42.8°F. This is 2.0°F above the May 2014 mean of 45.8°F. On a monthly basis, statewide temperatures have been above normal since July 2014. Kotzebue held the greatest positive deviation from normal at a significant 8.4°F above its long-term mean of 31.9°F. Stations following Kotzebue with positive deviations equal to or exceeding 6°F were: Delta Junction (7.7°F), Bettles (7.2°F), Bettles (7.2°F), and Gulkana (6.0°F).

 

The warmest temperature of the First Order Stations was 86°F reported at Fairbanks on the 23rd. Fairbanks and Delta Junction tied for the highest mean temperature for the month at 55.3°F. The coldest temperature was 4°F at Barrow on the 1st, and Barrow reported the lowest May mean temperature at 28.0°F.

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

49.9

47.8

2.1

Annette

55.1

50.2

4.9

Barrow

28.0

21.1

6.9

Bethel

46.7

41.9

4.8

Bettles

51.6

44.4

7.2

Cold Bay

43.6

40.3

3.3

Delta Junction

55.3

47.6

7.7

Fairbanks

55.3

49.4

5.9

Gulkana

51.2

45.2

6.0

Homer

49.7

44.5

5.2

Juneau

54.1

48.6

5.5

King Salmon

47.9

44.2

3.7

Kodiak

47.0

44.3

2.7

Kotzebue

40.3

31.9

8.4

McGrath

52.1

46.7

5.4

Nome

41.1

36.8

4.3

St. Paul Island

40.0

36.2

3.8

Talkeetna

50.9

47.8

3.1

Yakutat

47.5

44.7

2.8

 

 

 

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

 

As has often been the case throughout this last winter, the daily record temperature events for May were all high events, with no record low events reported. Most of these were reported during the extended warm period experienced throughout the second half of the month.

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

05/01/15

St. Paul

High Temperature

44

43

1967

05/03/15

Cold Bay

High Temperature

52

51

2014

05/06/15

Cold Bay

High Temperature

51

51

2002

05/06/15

St. Paul

High Temperature

47

45

1996

05/08/15

Annette

High Temperature

72

72

1957

05/13/15

Hollis

High Temperature

70

70

1993

05/13/15

Skagway Airport

High Temperature

73

78

2014

05/15/15

Delta Junction

High Temperature

73

70

2004

05/17/15

Annette

High Temperature

75

74

1968

05/17/15

Barrow

High Temperature

38

38

1923

05/17/15

Bettles

High Temperature

73

70

1994

05/17/15

Fairbanks

High Temperature

77

76

1923

05/18/15

Barrow

High Temperature

41

39

1963

05/18/15

Bettles

High Temperature

73

69

1990

05/18/15

Delta Junction

High Temperature

75

75

1993

05/18/15

Haines Airport

High Temperature

73

72

2005

05/19/15

Barrow

High Temperature

46

38

2009

05/19/15

Delta Junction

High Temperature

74

72

2002

05/20/15

Bettles

High Temperature

74

74

2002

05/20/15

St. Paul

High Temperature

46

46

2003

05/21/15

Barrow

High Temperature

47

41

2011

05/21/15

Hollis

High Temperature

72

72

1990

05/23/15

Bettles

High Temperature

82

82

1960

05/23/15

Delta Junction

High Temperature

82

82

1960

05/23/15

Eielson AFB

High Temperature

85

82

1960

05/23/15

Fairbanks

High Temperature

86

80

2002

05/23/15

North Pole

High Temperature

86

83

2002

05/23/15

Northway

High Temperature

84

83

1960

05/23/15

UAF College Obs.

High Temperature

84

83

1963

05/30/15

Hollis

High Temperature

75

74

1957

05/30/15

Juneau

High Temperature

77

75

1964

05/30/15

Port Alexander

High Temperature

72

70

1990

05/30/15

Skagway Airport

High Temperature

72

68

2010

05/30/15

Talkeetna

High Temperature

79

79

1958

05/31/15

Kotzebue

High Temperature

66

64

1961

 

On top of the large number of daily records, there were a number of monthly record highs set. See the following table. Barrow tied the old record of 28.0" from 1991 while Haines tied the record set way back in 1915 at 55.0°F. It was also the second warmest May on record for Annette, Fairbanks and Homer. The third warmest for Sitka, Bethel, McGrath, Talkeetna and Denali National Park. The fourth warmest for Cold Bay, King Salmon and St Paul. Anchorage and Yakutat both came in at their fifth warmest on record.

 

 

Monthly High Temperature Records

Station

New
Record

Old
Record

Difference

Year of
old Record

Bettles

51.6

51.0

0.6

1981

Delta Junction

55.3

54.2

1.1

1981

Gulkana

51.2

50.5

0.7

2004

Juneau

54.1

52.7

1.4

2005

Ketchikan

55.0

53.5

1.5

1993

Kotzebue

40.3

39.4

0.9

2004

Skagway Airport

55.1

52.9

2.2

2014

 

Precipitation

 

May was just slightly wetter than normal, with the overall precipitation calculated as 3% above normal; this calculation was based on the mean of the deviations in percentage of the First Order Stations. Eight of the First Order Stations and 13 days of the month reported above normal values. This is just slightly, relatively, wetter than May in 2014, which had the normal precipitation total. The greatest daily deviation of 191% occurred on the 25th, driven by record-breaking precipitation at Barrow. On a monthly basis, Barrow had the greatest positive deviation from normal, with a total of 0.65", or 361% of the expected amount of 0.18". Other stations with precipitation greater than 200% of normal were King Salmon (266%), and Cold Bay (201%). The leading station with a lower than normal precipitation amount was Delta Junction with just 4% of normal. Other stations with less than 20% of their normal precipitation were Annette (9%), and Juneau (15%).

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

0.46

0.72

-0.26

-36%

64%

Annette

0.50

5.56

-5.06

-91%

9%

Barrow

0.65

0.18

0.47

261%

361%

Bethel

1.80

1.14

0.66

58%

158%

Bettles

0.35

0.88

-0.53

-60%

40%

Cold Bay

5.23

2.60

2.63

101%

201%

Delta Junction

0.04

0.90

-0.86

-96%

4%

Fairbanks

0.29

0.60

-0.31

-52%

48%

Gulkana

0.16

0.65

-0.49

-75%

25%

Homer

0.33

0.82

-0.49

-60%

40%

Juneau

0.52

3.40

-2.88

-85%

15%

King Salmon

3.32

1.25

2.07

166%

266%

Kodiak

6.03

5.62

0.41

7%

107%

Kotzebue

0.58

0.41

0.17

41%

141%

McGrath

0.38

1.09

-0.71

-65%

35%

Nome

1.49

0.86

0.63

73%

173%

St. Paul Island

2.03

1.13

0.90

80%

180%

Talkeetna

1.11

1.62

-0.51

-31%

69%

Yakutat

1.62

8.21

-6.59

-80%

20%

 

 

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

 

 

The maximum monthly precipitation total reported for a First Order Station was 6.03" at Kodiak, and Kodak also reported the highest daily total of 1.48" on the 14th, a new record for this specific day. The snow cover has melted for most of Alaska; however, Barrow, in Northern Alaska reported, a one-day snowfall on the 6th with 0.3". Barrow also reported the highest monthly snowfall of 1.2", and the highest snow depth of 8" on the 7th and 8th.

 

There were a limited number of daily precipitation records. Two of the six events were set in Barrow, and two more in King Salmon. For the month, King Salmon totaled 3.32" and broke the 1941 record of 3.20". This May was the third wettest on record for Barrow. The daily precipitation record of 0.34" on the 25th is the wettest day for any day in May for Barrow. The old record of 0.30" was previously set on both May 15th, 2014 and May 28th 2010.

 

 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

05/03/15

King Salmon

Precipitation

0.61

0.45

1947

05/10/15

Cold Bay

Precipitation

0.50

0.39

1993

05/14/15

King Salmon

Precipitation

0.55

0.46

1989

05/14/15

Kodiak

Precipitation

1.47

1.14

1965

05/15/15

Barrow

Precipitation

0.09

0.04

1963

05/25/15

Barrow

Precipitation

0.34

0.06

1967

 

On the other side of the spectrum, the very nice May in Southeast Alaska generated a number of record low monthly precipitation records. Ketchikan smashed the 2010 recorded of 2.12" with a low 0.68". Annette broke the 1946 record of 1.34" with 0.50"; this is just 9% of normal. The meager 0.34" for Sitka was almost half the 0.72" record low from just last year. Juneau received a total of 0.52", 0.32" below the 2004 record low. Finally, Yakutat totaled 1.62", almost an inch below the 2009 record of 2.58". In addition, it was the second driest May for Skagway, and the third driest May for Haines, Cold Bay and Delta Junction.

 

 

This water vapor satellite image from the National Weather Service for the 16th of May shows the typical weather pattern the resulted in record low precipitation across the Southeast and record high precipitation in King Salmon.

 

 

 

Newsworthy Events

 

The ongoing saga with the Sagavanirktok River on the North Slope spilled over from March and April into May. Flooding watches were set on the 15th. Actual flooding returned on the 18th with over two feet of water across the Dalton Highway at the Sagavanirktok River, closing the road. Over the next few days, the flooding extended over some 40 miles of the roadway. Some structures were also flooded as the water encroached on Deadhorse. The flooding ended extending up to 80 miles. The Governor declared a second disaster declaration for the North Slope as Kuparuk and Colville Rivers also flooded. Repairs on the Dalton Highway could not start until around the 25th, when water levels dropped enough due to water flowing back into the mail channel of the Sagavanirktok. The road was still closed to traffic at the end of the month.

 

The month started out with dense fog warnings for the Kotzebue area on the 1st. The break up season had caused difficult travel along the Elliott Highway, and advisories were issued on the 6th. A human caused wildfire tore through winter-dried grass near Anchor Point and consumed about five acres before being extinguished on the 7th. The 7th also saw the high at Annette hit 72°F, breaking the 70°F barrier for the first time this year for the Southeast. The next day, Barrow finally broke 32°F, with a high of 34°F, for the first time since November 14th. The last sunset till August 2nd happened at Barrow on the 11th. Fairbanks hit its first 70°F day with a high of 71°F on the 13th, about a week early. The Denali Highway was opened for seasonal traffic on the 15th. The break up for the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers was non-eventful this spring as the rivers experienced a 'mushout' of melting in place. Flood warnings were issued for Fort Yukon on the 19th from the Porcupine River, rising due to rapid snowmelt from the high temperatures. No significant problems were reported. Flood watches were issued for the Noatak River on the 20th, as well as for all rivers that drain into the Beaufort Sea on the 21st.

 

Two small, probably related, human caused wildfires were contained in North Pole on the 14th. Wildfire (Red Flag) warnings were issued over much of the Interior. These Red Flag warnings persisted throughout most of the rest of the month for areas between the Alaska and Brooks Ranges. In some areas, Red Flag warnings were issued alongside flood warnings. Such as one issued for Porcupine River on the 16th. The Bolgen Creek fire, detected on the 16th, near Central had reached 500 acres by the 18th. It was aggressively fought. Another fire was contained to about 15 acres near Delta Junction also on the 16th. Three fires were report in the Healy area on the 19th. On the 20th a fire 80 miles from Tok had jumped the Alaska Highway. It had reached 300 acres by the 21st. Fire fighting planes from Montana and Washington were brought up to have on hand as temperatures reached unseasonable levels. Fire crews were fighting a 1,500-acre wildfire near Eagle on the 25th. Another wildfire was suppressed in North Pole on the 26th.

 

The Southcentral region also saw fire warnings issued on the 22nd, and these continued to the end of the month. The Point Thompson airfield on the North Slope reported up to 4" of snow on the 30th, as a cold front moved south from the Arctic. High winds in the Interior regenerated fire warnings on the 31st and thunderstorm notices were issued for the Kuskokwim Delta.

 

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.