March 2016 Statewide Summary

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

March 2016

 

Temperature

 

March 2016 is the sixth month in a row where temperatures were above normal. The monthly mean temperature of all First Order Stations was 25.4°F, 5.9°F above the normal of 19.5°F. This is 2.9°F above the March 2015 mean of 22.5°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), 28 days of the month were above the 30-year normal. The peak positive deviation for the month, an extreme 11.0°F, occurred on the 25th, while the greatest negative deviation occurred on both the 17th and 19th at -1.1°F. On a monthly basis, Delta Junction held the greatest positive deviation from normal with a significant value of 9.8°F above its long-term mean of 14.1°F. Stations following Delta Junction with deviations exceeding 7.0°F were King Salmon (8.8°F), Fairbanks (8.4°F), Gulkana (8.3°F), Bettles (7.4°F) and Homer (7.3°F).

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

33.4

26.6

6.8

Annette

42.5

39.7

2.8

Barrow

-7.2

-12.7

5.5

Bethel

21.1

15.2

5.9

Bettles

11.8

4.4

7.4

Cold Bay

32.8

30.1

2.7

Delta Junction

23.9

14.1

9.8

Fairbanks

19.8

11.4

8.4

Gulkana

23.9

15.6

8.3

Homer

37.2

29.9

7.3

Juneau

39.9

33.8

6.1

King Salmon

32.9

24.1

8.8

Kodiak

39.3

32.8

6.5

Kotzebue

3.3

1.1

2.2

McGrath

17.2

11.6

5.6

Nome

11.6

10.3

1.3

St. Paul Island

28.5

24.8

3.7

Talkeetna

31.2

24.9

6.3

Yakutat

39.0

32.0

7.0

 

 

The highest daily maximum temperature of the First Order Stations for March was 60°F reported at Annette on the 31st of the month. Annette also held the spot for the highest mean temperature for the month at 42.5°F. The lowest temperature was ‑28°F at Barrow on the 17th, and Barrow also reported the lowest March mean temperature at ‑7.2°F.

 

 

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

 

There were quite a number of daily temperature record events once again in March, and like December, January and February, all were high events; either new records or tied events. The winter of 2015-16 is only the second one on record for Fairbanks where the temperatures did not drop below -30°F by the end of March. The only other winter on record where Fairbanks did not reach ‑30°F is 1976-1977. The daily high in Anchorage of 53°F on the 31st was a daily record, and also the highest temperature for any March day in Anchorage. Sitka set of tied its daily high eleven times in March, which is itself quite a feat. Yakutat had eight record high events, while Juneau and Haines each had six.

 

A very nice March in Southeast was reflected in a number of new high monthly average temperatures.  March was the warmest on record for Juneau at 39.9°F, 0.3°F above the previous record from 1984, for Ketchikan at 43.8°F (43.5°F from 1915), Sitka with 45.1°F (42.5°F from 1984), and Haines at 39.6°F (39.1°F from 1915).

 

It was the second warmest March on record in Kodiak with 39.3°F after the record of 40.4°F set in 1983. Homer also had its second warmest March (36.8°F) after the 38.0°F observed in 1977. It was the fourth warmest March for Cordova and Bettles, while it was the fifth warmest for Anchorage.

 

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

03/01/16

Sitka

High Temperature

51

50

2015

03/02/16

St. Paul

High Temperature

41

40

2015

03/03/16

Sitka

High Temperature

49

49

1945

03/03/16

St. Paul

High Temperature

35

35

1996

03/03/16

Yakutat

High Temperature

47

47

1957

03/04/16

Sitka

High Temperature

50

50

1957

03/05/16

Juneau

High Temperature

46

46

2005

03/05/16

Sitka

High Temperature

51

49

2008

03/05/16

Yakutat

High Temperature

49

48

1939

03/06/16

Haines Airport

High Temperature

46

45

2015

03/06/16

Juneau

High Temperature

48

46

1941

03/06/16

Yakutat

High Temperature

50

46

1984

03/07/16

Haines Airport

High Temperature

46

45

2005

03/07/16

Sitka

High Temperature

50

49

2005

03/07/16

Yakutat

High Temperature

51

47

1983

03/10/16

Juneau

High Temperature

46

46

1996

03/11/16

Sitka

High Temperature

68

55

1965

03/12/16

Anchorage

High Temperature

46

46

2005

03/12/16

Juneau

High Temperature

50

48

1981

03/12/16

Yakutat

High Temperature

51

49

1983

03/13/16

Anchorage

High Temperature

44

44

1981

03/13/16

Juneau

High Temperature

49

48

2005

03/13/16

King Salmon

High Temperature

49

47

1996

03/14/16

Sitka

High Temperature

70

52

1979

03/15/16

Sitka

High Temperature

64

54

2003

03/20/16

Sitka

High Temperature

57

55

1998

03/21/16

Yakutat

High Temperature

53

53

2004

03/22/16

Anchorage

High Temperature

49

48

1965

03/22/16

Haines Airport

High Temperature

52

51

2006

03/23/16

Anchorage

High Temperature

50

46

2015

03/23/16

Juneau

High Temperature

51

50

2006

03/23/16

Kenai

High Temperature

50

46

1900

03/23/16

Sitka

High Temperature

53

53

1990

03/23/16

Yakutat

High Temperature

53

50

1990

03/23/16

Yakutat

High Temperature

53

50

1990

03/24/16

Anchorage

High Temperature

51

48

2015

03/24/16

Delta Junction

High Temperature

48

48

1998

03/24/16

Haines Airport

High Temperature

53

49

1979

03/24/16

Haines Airport

High Temperature

53

52

1915

03/24/16

Kenai

High Temperature

51

50

1905

03/25/16

Delta Junction

High Temperature

48

45

1999

03/25/16

Fairbanks

High Temperature

51

50

1999

03/27/16

Cold Bay

High Temperature

47

46

2015

03/29/16

Northway

High Temperature

52

50

1966

03/30/16

Homer

High Temperature

51

49

2015

03/30/16

Northway

High Temperature

49

46

2015

03/31/16

Haines Airport

High Temperature

63

57

1926

03/31/16

Juneau

High Temperature

58

52

1981

03/31/16

Sitka

High Temperature

59

54

1994

03/02/06

Ketchikan

High Temperature

50

50

1970

03/18/06

Ketchikan

High Temperature

53

53

1966

03/30/06

Anchorage

High Temperature

50

49

2015

03/30/06

Annette

High Temperature

58

58

1942

03/31/06

Anchorage

High Temperature

53

50

1993

03/31/06

Cold Bay

High Temperature

49

49

1996

03/31/06

Delta Junction

High Temperature

56

48

1993

03/31/06

Ketchikan

High Temperature

65

60

1942

03/31/06

King Salmon

High Temperature

52

50

1983

03/31/06

Yakutat

High Temperature

57

52

1994

 

 

Precipitation

 

March precipitation was higher than expected, 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. Nine of the First Order Stations and eleven 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 the same as March 2015, which had a precipitation total of 17% above normal too. The greatest daily deviation of 334% occurred on the 28th. Nome had the greatest negative deviation from normal, with a total of 0.04", or just 6% of the expected amount of 0.65". The leading station with a greater than normal precipitation amount was King Salmon with 179% above normal. Talkeetna had 172% above normal, while Gulkana observed 147% above normal.

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

1.23

0.60

0.63

105%

205%

Annette

6.37

8.05

-1.68

-21%

79%

Barrow

0.04

0.09

-0.05

-56%

44%

Bethel

0.75

0.71

0.04

6%

106%

Bettles

0.45

0.58

-0.13

-22%

78%

Cold Bay

1.19

2.70

-1.51

-56%

44%

Delta Junction

0.08

0.18

-0.10

-56%

44%

Fairbanks

0.53

0.25

0.28

112%

212%

Gulkana

0.74

0.30

0.44

147%

247%

Homer

1.09

1.65

-0.56

-34%

66%

Juneau

2.17

3.78

-1.61

-43%

57%

King Salmon

1.95

0.70

1.25

179%

279%

Kodiak

7.34

5.53

1.81

33%

133%

Kotzebue

0.14

0.44

-0.30

-68%

32%

McGrath

1.02

0.81

0.21

26%

126%

Nome

0.04

0.65

-0.61

-94%

6%

St. Paul Island

1.11

1.07

0.04

4%

104%

Talkeetna

2.86

1.05

1.81

172%

272%

Yakutat

9.63

11.04

-1.41

-13%

87%

 

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 Station was 9.63" at Yakutat, and Yakutat also reported the highest daily total of 3.07" on the 28th. There were two new daily precipitation records set in Anchorage: The total of 0.23" on the 28th topped the 0.20" from 2005. Then on the 30th the total of 0.10" broke the old record of 0.80" from 2005. Fairbanks received 0.30" water equivalent precipitation on the 29th, breaking the old 1965 record of 0.18".

 

 

Snowfall

 

Snowfall was again unsurprisingly light in March, with 11 of the 15 First Order Stations that measure snowfall reporting below normal amounts. Barrow, McGrath and St. Paul were the only stations reporting above normal amounts. Bettles hit is normal of 9.3". Based on the mean of the deviations from all 15 stations, the overall deviation from the normals was 48% below the expected amount. Like January, and February, Yakutat reported the highest negative deviation in snowfall amount at ‑27.7" with an actual total of just 0.7". Snowpack averaged about 45% of normal.

 

Station

Snowfall

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

10.7

9.9

0.8

8%

108%

Annette

0.0

6.9

-6.9

-100%

0%

Barrow

1.0

2.1

-1.1

-52%

48%

Bethel

2.5

8.2

-5.7

-70%

30%

Bettles

9.3

9.3

0.0

0%

100%

Cold Bay

7.5

13.0

-5.5

-42%

58%

Fairbanks

3.7

4.9

-1.2

-24%

76%

Juneau

0.0

11.6

-11.6

-100%

0%

King Salmon

4.0

6.4

-2.4

-38%

63%

Kodiak

3.6

11.3

-7.7

-68%

32%

Kotzebue

3.7

5.9

-2.2

-37%

63%

McGrath

13.3

11.3

2.0

18%

118%

Nome

0.5

8.9

-8.4

-94%

6%

St. Paul Island

10.9

8.0

2.9

36%

136%

Yakutat

0.7

28.4

-27.7

-98%

2%

 

 

McGrath reported the highest total snowfall for any first order station at 13.3", and McGrath also reported the highest one-day snowfall at 6.9" on the 30th. The deepest snowpack was recorded at Kotzebue at 35" during the last week of the month. There were two new daily snowfall records, with one set in St. Paul on the 6th with a total of 3.8", breaking the 190 record of 2.4". On the 19th, Anchorage observed 6.4", breaking the 1979 record of 5.2".

 

Newsworthy Events

March started out with the second wildfire of the year reported in Mat-Su on the 1st.

Zero visibility and winds up to 35 mph were reported on the Dalton Highway on the 3rd as a blizzard impacted the area. Avalanche reduction efforts were done along the Klondike highway also on the 3rd, while downtown Juneau experienced winds up to 40 mph. With Anchorage having nearly no snow on the ground, the Iditarod Sled Dog Race planned a shortened ceremonial start in Anchorage, while Alaska Railroad was tapped to haul up to 350 cubic yards of snow from Fairbanks for the race start. Snow was finally reported in the Southcentral region on the 4th with the highest snowfall totals of 4" for Seldovia, and 3" for upper Potter Valley. The slush generated treacherous roads that caused more than 50 vehicle accidents in Anchorage on the 4th. 

 

More blizzard conditions on the North Slope on the 7th impaired travel with winds up 40 mph and drifting snow for zero visibility. Travel was not advised along north portions of the Dalton highway, and work slowed on controlling the overflow along the Sag River. Hydaburg reported a wind gust of 61 mph on the 8th. The Eaglecrest ski area canceled its annual its Slush Cup event scheduled for the 10th, and planned to close on the 13th, however it ended up staying open one extra weekend. Avalanche reduction efforts were used on the Dalton Highway on the 13th between mileposts 235 and 250. A winter weather advisory was issued for areas of the Mat-Su for the 16th. Snowfalls totaled up 5" for the areas of Trapper Creek and Moose Creek, while Palmer observer 4". Fairbanks received a 1.8" of snow in the 15th, first snowfall over 1" since November 26th, 2015.

 

More snowfall on the 19th in Anchorage brought more vehicle accidents, with more than 50 reported. The Eagle River area received totals up to 11" and 6.4" was reported at the Anchorage International Airport. More snowfall in Southcentral area on the 28th resulted in totals of over 4" in Valdez and bringing the snowpack to 30". Avalanche control was performed along the Richardson Highway in Thompson Pass as well as the Parks Highway between mileposts 194 to 321 on the 29th. Mild weather in Southeast allowed the early opening of Montana Creek Road in Juneau on the 30th. The road is normally opened on May 1st. The Salcha wood cutting ice road was closed on the 31st due to deteriorating conditions due to the warmer than normal weather. Klawock, in Southeast reported a high of 71°F on the 31st. This is, preliminarily, the highest temperature ever recorded in Alaska in March, beating the 69°F from Ketchikan set on March 28th, 1915.

 

 

Description: ICEPICK:gi:Monthly Summaries:2016:03:Figure 3.jpg

This water vapor satellite image from the National Weather Service for the 26th of March shows the weather pattern generated storm warnings for the Aleutian Islands areas.

 

 

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.