Statewide November 2015

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

November 2015

 

Temperature

 

Like October, temperatures were decidedly above normal this November both across the state and throughout much of the month. The monthly mean temperature of all First Order Stations was 23.6°F, 4.4°F above the normal of 19.2°F. This is 2.6°F below the November 2014 mean of 26.2°F. Monthly mean temperatures were above normal for all 19 First Order Stations. Calculating the mean daily temperatures of the First Order Stations (see Figure), only one week of the month (13th – 19th) was below the 30-year normal. The peak warm deviation, an extreme 15.2°F, occurred on the 27th, while the coldest deviation of -13.2°F occurred on the 17th. McGrath held the greatest positive deviation from normal with an extreme value of 10.5°F above its long-term mean of 5.5°F. Stations following McGrath with deviations exceeding 7.0°F were Gulkana (7.6°F), King Salmon (7.4°F), and Bethel (7.1°F).

 

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

23.8

22.2

1.6

Annette

41.1

40.0

1.1

Barrow

2.9

0.7

2.2

Bethel

24.5

17.4

7.1

Bettles

7.4

-1.0

8.4

Cold Bay

34.7

34.5

0.2

Delta Junction

11.8

6.2

5.6

Fairbanks

9.1

2.6

6.5

Gulkana

13.4

5.8

7.6

Homer

32.3

29.5

2.8

Juneau

36.1

33.4

2.7

King Salmon

30.3

22.9

7.4

Kodiak

36.3

33.9

2.4

Kotzebue

14.8

9.1

5.7

McGrath

16.0

5.5

10.5

Nome

21.5

16.9

4.6

St. Paul Island

35.8

33.0

2.8

Talkeetna

22.7

19.5

3.2

Yakutat

34.7

32.3

2.4

 

The highest temperature of the First Order Stations was 53°F reported at Annette on the 1st and 4th of the month. Annette also held the spot for the highest mean temperature for the month at 41.1°F. The lowest temperature was -33°F at Bettles on the 18th, while Barrow reported the lowest November mean temperature at 2.9°F.

 


 

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

 

There were a limited number of temperature record events in November: all were tied records with no new records set, and all but two were high events. The tied low in Anchorage is the first low record event for Anchorage since May 20, 2013. Kotzebue also tied it's high record on the 2nd, with 37°F that had been set way back in 1928.

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

11/01/15

St. Paul

High Temperature

46

46

1991

11/02/15

Kotzebue

High Temperature

37

37

1928

11/02/15

St. Paul

High Temperature

46

46

1993

11/18/15

Anchorage

Low Temperature

-8

-8

1974

11/18/15

Kotzebue

Low Temperature

-23

-23

1930

11/20/15

Kodiak

High Temperature

48

48

2003

11/21/15

Juneau

High Temperature

48

48

2005

11/22/15

St. Paul

High Temperature

43

43

2003

11/24/15

Anchorage

High Temperature

45

45

2002

11/25/15

Anchorage

High Temperature

45

45

1956

 

Precipitation

 

November was significantly wetter than normal, with the overall precipitation calculated as 74% above normal; this calculation was based on the mean of the deviations in percentage of the First Order Stations. Sixteen of the First Order Stations and 19 days of the month reported above normal values. There were no days during the month without any measureable precipitation at all of the 19 First Order Stations. It was also much wetter than November 2014, which had a precipitation total 18% below normal. The greatest daily deviation of 358% occurred on the 24th, driven by a strong Bering Sea storm impacting the Western, Southcentral and Interior areas of the state. On a monthly basis, King Salmon had the greatest positive deviation from normal, with a total of 4.84", or 248% above the expected amount of 1.39". The other stations with precipitation totals greater than 150% above normal were McGrath (194%), Bettles (170%), Fairbanks (166%), and Talkeetna (165%). Like last month, the leading station with a lower than normal precipitation amount was Delta Junction with just 57% of normal.

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

1.69

1.16

0.53

46%

146%

Annette

10.33

12.29

-1.96

-16%

84%

Barrow

0.26

0.21

0.05

24%

124%

Bethel

1.97

1.60

0.37

23%

123%

Bettles

2.46

0.91

1.55

170%

270%

Cold Bay

4.87

4.98

-0.11

-2%

98%

Delta Junction

0.36

0.63

-0.27

-43%

57%

Fairbanks

1.78

0.67

1.11

166%

266%

Gulkana

1.78

0.72

1.06

147%

247%

Homer

3.28

2.79

0.49

18%

118%

Juneau

12.02

5.99

6.03

101%

201%

King Salmon

4.84

1.39

3.45

248%

348%

Kodiak

6.93

6.87

0.06

1%

101%

Kotzebue

1.32

0.77

0.55

71%

171%

McGrath

4.14

1.41

2.73

194%

294%

Nome

1.95

1.22

0.73

60%

160%

St. Paul Island

3.64

2.89

0.75

26%

126%

Talkeetna

4.32

1.63

2.69

165%

265%

Yakutat

16.23

14.45

1.78

12%

112%

 

 


 

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

 

 

The maximum monthly precipitation total reported for a First Order Station was 16.23" at Yakutat, and Yakutat also reported the highest daily total of 2.09" on the 20th, a new record for that specific day. Bettles reported the highest total snowfall at 50.6", a new monthly record. McGrath reported the highest one-day snowfall at 10.8" on the 23rd. McGrath also reported the highest snow depth at 30".

 

There were a normal number of daily precipitation records this November, scattered across the state and throughout the month. It was the third wettest November for McGrath. It was also the fifth wettest November for Fairbanks and Gulkana. Juneau remains on track to set a new annual precipitation record. From January to end of November Juneau has received 82.54" of precipitation, soundly beating the old record for the time period of 75.83" from 1991. The normal precipitation for that time period is 56.43".

 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

11/02/15

Bettles

Precipitation

0.26

0.20

1967

11/02/15

Fairbanks

Precipitation

0.22

0.16

1935

11/04/15

Bethel

Precipitation

0.41

0.33

1993

11/08/15

Nome

Precipitation

0.92

0.42

2000

11/09/15

Delta Junction

Precipitation

0.15

0.09

1987

11/10/15

Ketchikan

Precipitation

2.11

1.80

1934

11/19/15

King Salmon

Precipitation

0.57

0.45

1957

11/23/15

McGrath

Precipitation

1.47

0.62

2010

11/24/15

King Salmon

Precipitation

1.37

0.30

1929

 

Snowfall

 

Snowfall was unsurprisingly heavy, with ten of the 15 First Order Stations that measure snowfall reporting above normal amounts. Based on the mean of the deviations from all 15 stations, the overall deviation from the normals was 27% above the expected amount. Annette reported the lowest amount at 0.9", just 26% of its normal. Bettles had the highest deviation at 314% of its expected amount with a total of 50.6".

 

Station

Snowfall

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

13.8

13.1

0.7

5%

105%

Annette

0.9

3.5

-2.6

-74%

26%

Barrow

3.7

5.7

-2.0

-35%

65%

Bethel

9.4

12.9

-3.5

-27%

73%

Bettles

50.6

16.1

34.5

214%

314%

Cold Bay

5.3

10.2

-4.9

-48%

52%

Fairbanks

25.4

13.2

12.2

92%

192%

Juneau

16.6

13.1

3.5

27%

127%

King Salmon

12.7

6.9

5.8

84%

184%

Kodiak

1.0

6.4

-5.4

-84%

16%

Kotzebue

13.7

10.5

3.2

30%

130%

McGrath

44.3

19.3

25.0

130%

230%

Nome

15.6

12.1

3.5

29%

129%

St. Paul Island

12.0

8.3

3.7

45%

145%

Yakutat

22.7

18.2

4.5

25%

125%

 

 

This was the snowiest November on record for Bettles with 9.0" above the old 1967 record. 2015 is also the snowiest season from September to November for Bettles with a total of 71.8", shattering the 1979 record of 59.3". Normal Bettles snowfall for this time frame is just 30.0". It was the second snowiest November for McGrath, behind the record of 53.6" from 1994. Mean snow depth for November was about normal when aggregated across the 15 stations.

 

 

Snowfall Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

11/02/15

Bettles

Snowfall

3.8

2.0

1967

11/02/15

Fairbanks

Snowfall

2.8

2.5

1939

11/09/15

King Salmon

Snowfall

3.4

3.1

2005

11/10/15

Cold Bay

Snowfall

1.5

1.3

2007

11/12/15

St. Paul

Snowfall

2.2

1.3

1968

11/18/15

Juneau

Snowfall

10.0

9.4

1966

11/19/15

McGrath

Snowfall

7.3

5.6

1962

11/19/15

McGrath

Snowfall

7.3

5.6

1962

11/23/15

McGrath

Snowfall

10.8

6.6

2003

11/24/15

Bettles

Snowfall

4.7

3.6

1970

11/24/15

King Salmon

Snowfall

3.4

2.0

2004

 

 

Newsworthy Events

 

November started out with winter weather and gale warnings and watches extending from the Bering Strait to the Canadian border as a storm barreled out of the Bering Sea. High winds, freezing spray, and coastal flooding warnings were also issued. Snowfall in the Anchorage area left roads a mess helping cause numerous vehicle crashes on the 2nd. Commuters were warned of more snow and problems the next day. High wind warnings were issued for the Aleutians Islands and gusts up to 75 mph were measured at Adak. Warnings and watches continued into the 3rd. Snowfalls up 7" were forecasted for portions of the Interior on the 4th.

 

Storm warnings switched to the Southeast on the 5th for gales with winds up to 45 mph. Up to 7" of snow was expected at White Pass along the Klondike Highway. Coastal flooding watches returned the Bering Strait area on the 6th, while a travel advisory was issued for Fairbanks for slick roads as the temperatures hovered around the freezing point. The Southcentral area was warned of another round of snow/mixed rain also on the 6th. Arctic coastal waters saw heavy freezing spray, gale warnings and coastal flooding on the 7th. Heavy snow was forecasted for Southcentral with accumulation up to a foot, low visibility and difficult travel on both the 7th and 8th. High winds also impeded travel along the Parks Highway with gusts up to 70 mph. Also on the 8th the storm pushed in the central Interior with blowing snow along the Elliott Highway, while the storm and coastal flooding warnings continued for areas along the western coasts and Seward Peninsula. Anchorage area schools were closed on the 8th in response the icy roads. Schools were also closed in Unalaska on the 8th, while property damage was reported in the area due to hurricane force winds, with a gust up to 93 mph measured at Akutan.

 


 

This water vapor satellite image from the National Weather Service for the 8th of November shows the well-developed low-pressure weather pattern the storm warnings across much of Alaska.

 

Heavy snow, up to 8", was again forecasted for the Klondike Highway on the 10th, while heavy rain and high winds were forecasted for the Southeast coastal areas and seas in the Gulf of Alaska up to 40 ft. on the 10th and 11th from multiple storms. Hyder received up to 10" of snow on the 10th. Boat owners were asked to check their boats in Juneau Harbor after the storms. Heavy snow was reported west of Fairbanks on the 11th with Keystone Ridge reporting 6.5". The winter weather in Southcentral resulted in more than a dozen avalanches in Hatcher Pass. A wind gust of 71 mph was reported at Valdez on the 12th.

 

Fairbanks saw the temperatures drop to -20°F on the 14th. Anchorage hit a high of just 6°F on the 16th: the first time the high has been that low since December 25, 2013, and the cold snap continued into the next day for Southcentral. Heavy snow hit the northern Panhandle on the 16th with 20" at the Haines Customs Stations, and then on the 17th Yakutat totaled over 10", Elfin Cove measured 9.0" while Juneau totaled 10.0" on the 18th: this is the highest one day snowfall in Juneau since the 13.9" from November 23, 2011. The annual winter closure of Montana Creek Road near Juneau started on the 17th.

 

Another series of winter storms resulted in storm warnings and watches for gale force winds, freezing spray and blizzard conditions from the western coastal areas to the eastern Interior on the 18th and 19th with snow accumulation up to 10" anticipated in some areas. Similar warnings were issued for the northern Panhandle and Southcentral areas, with possible mixed snow and rain for areas around Anchorage. Thompson Pass was expected to receive up to 20". Some schools were closed in Susitna Valley on the 20th after up to 18" snow fell. High winds were experienced along the Parks, Richardson Highways through the passes, and along the Alaska Highway up to the Canadian boarder on the 21st, while avalanche warnings were issued for Hatcher Pass due to the new snow.

 

Also on the 19th heavy rain was forecast for the Northern Panhandle with blizzard warnings for the Klondike Highway with accumulation up to 14". The rain prompted concern for the result of the rain on the deep snowpack that had just formed and residents were asked to remove snow to allow for proper drainage along streets in communities in the northern Panhandle. Boat owners were requested to check on their boats and motorists were warned of icy roads. The Klondike Highway was closed due to an avalanche on the 20th.

 

The storm warnings for the west coast and interior areas to the Canadian border continued on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th for blizzard conditions and coastal flood watches. Snowfalls totaling up to 8" and wind gusts up to 55 mph were expected. Freezing rain and forced most schools closed in Mat-Su Borough on the 24th and there were reports of a number of vehicle accidents. Hatcher Pass Road was closed due to an avalanche. Whiteout driving conditions closed the Richardson and Steese Highways, while wrecks blocked the Parks Highway on the 25th and motorists were warned against travel on the Parks Highway due to driving conditions until the 26th. In addition, a winter advisory predicted an additional 3" to 5" of snow along portions of the Parks Highway on the 25th and 26th. Chulitna measured 12" while areas near Fairbanks as well as Harding Lake totaled 7". Chulitna received another 10" the next day for a total of 83" on the ground. The rain in Anchorage resulted in warnings of ponding water on roadways and that streams were approaching bankfull. More heavy rain was forecasted for the Panhandle from the 25th to 29th with totals up to 6" predicted, and 10" possible.

 

The generally warm temperatures resulted in warning against travel along the Kuskokwim River due to thinning of the ice. Avalanche control was performed along the Parks Highway between miles 216 and 220 on the 27th. The month ended with advisories for snow along the Haines Highway, with up to 7" expected.

 

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.