May 2016 Statewide Summary

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

May 2016

 

Temperature

 

May 2016 marks the eighth month in a row with temperatures above normal. The monthly mean temperature of all First Order Stations was 47.6°F, 4.8°F above the normal of 42.8°F. This is 0.2°F below the May 2015 mean of 47.8°F. Monthly mean temperatures (see table) were above normal for all 19 First Order Stations. Calculating the mean daily temperatures of the First Order Stations (see Figure), all 31 days of the month were above the 30-year normal. The peak positive deviation for the month, a notable 11.0°F, occurred on the 14th. On a monthly basis, Kotzebue held the greatest positive deviation from normal with a significant value of 8.7°F above its long-term mean of 40.6°F. Stations following Kotzebue with deviations exceeding 6.0°F were Barrow (7.6°F), Bethel (7.1°F) and Nome (6.1°F). Note that the four stations with the highest deviations are located in Alaska's northern and western coastal areas.

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

52.0

47.8

4.2

Annette

55.0

50.2

4.8

Barrow

28.7

21.1

7.6

Bethel

49.0

41.9

7.1

Bettles

48.6

44.4

4.2

Cold Bay

44.4

40.3

4.1

Delta Junction

50.4

47.6

2.8

Fairbanks

53.4

49.4

4.0

Gulkana

49.7

45.2

4.5

Homer

48.6

44.5

4.1

Juneau

51.8

48.6

3.2

King Salmon

49.0

44.2

4.8

Kodiak

48.2

44.3

3.9

Kotzebue

40.6

31.9

8.7

McGrath

50.6

46.7

3.9

Nome

42.9

36.8

6.1

St. Paul Island

40.8

36.2

4.6

Talkeetna

52.0

47.8

4.2

Yakutat

48.7

44.7

4.0

 

 

The highest daily maximum temperature of the First Order Stations for May was 82°F reported at Fairbanks on the 14th of the month, a new daily record. Annette held the spot for the highest mean temperature for the month at 55.0°F. The lowest temperature was _14°F at Barrow on the 7th and 8th, and Barrow also reported the lowest May mean monthly temperature with a value of 28.7°F.

 

 

Daily mean temperature deviation from the normal temperature for the mean of the First Order Stations for May 2015.

 

Once again in May, there were quite a number of daily temperature record events, and like the last five months, all were high events, either new records or tied events, and most occurred around the very warm middle of the month. Barrow reported four new and two tied daily high records in May. Bethel and King Salmon each had four record high events.

 

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

05/03/16

St. Paul

High Temperature

45

45

2014

05/10/16

Barrow

High Temperature

36

36

1996

05/11/16

Annette

High Temperature

75

73

1942

05/11/16

Barrow

High Temperature

41

36

2014

05/12/16

Annette

High Temperature

74

73

1942

05/12/16

Barrow

High Temperature

41

39

1996

05/12/16

Sitka

High Temperature

73

68

1945

05/13/16

Anchorage

High Temperature

71

71

1996

05/13/16

Barrow

High Temperature

42

38

1928

05/13/16

Cordova

High Temperature

73

69

1996

05/13/16

Delta Junction

High Temperature

77

77

1995

05/13/16

Haines Airport

High Temperature

78

75

2015

05/13/16

Juneau

High Temperature

79

75

1942

05/13/16

King Salmon

High Temperature

71

71

2014

05/13/16

McGrath

High Temperature

72

72

1996

05/13/16

Sitka

High Temperature

76

74

1945

05/14/16

Annette

High Temperature

81

77

1973

05/14/16

Bettles

High Temperature

68

67

1999

05/14/16

Cordova

High Temperature

72

71

1999

05/14/16

Craig

High Temperature

78

66

1945

05/14/16

Delta Junction

High Temperature

78

71

2005

05/14/16

Denali National Park

High Temperature

78

67

1970

05/14/16

Eielson AFB

High Temperature

80

75

2005

05/14/16

Fairbanks

High Temperature

82

80

1915

05/14/16

Gustavus

High Temperature

76

71

2004

05/14/16

Haines Airport

High Temperature

76

74

1942

05/14/16

Hollis

High Temperature

75

75

1993

05/14/16

Juneau

High Temperature

77

74

1942

05/14/16

King Salmon

High Temperature

73

72

2014

05/14/16

McGrath

High Temperature

73

70

1978

05/14/16

Nenana

High Temperature

78

74

2005

05/14/16

Northway

High Temperature

79

77

1993

05/14/16

Petersburg

High Temperature

75

74

1945

05/14/16

Port Alexander

High Temperature

75

67

1993

05/14/16

Sitka

High Temperature

78

76

1973

05/14/16

Sitka Observatory

High Temperature

78

78

1912

05/14/16

St. Paul

High Temperature

48

48

2002

05/14/16

Tanana Airport

High Temperature

76

76

1988

05/15/16

Anchorage

High Temperature

72

65

2014

05/15/16

Auke Bay

High Temperature

74

72

1993

05/15/16

Bethel

High Temperature

73

72

1996

05/15/16

Cold Bay

High Temperature

63

61

2014

05/15/16

Haines Airport

High Temperature

74

74

1915

05/15/16

Hollis

High Temperature

77

70

1993

05/15/16

Juneau

High Temperature

75

73

1993

05/15/16

King Salmon

High Temperature

73

73

2014

05/15/16

Northway

High Temperature

77

77

2015

05/15/16

Petersburg

High Temperature

72

72

1973

05/15/16

Yakutat

High Temperature

71

71

1942

05/16/16

Auke Bay

High Temperature

71

71

1994

05/16/16

Bethel

High Temperature

75

66

2007

05/16/16

Kotzebue

High Temperature

58

57

1983

05/20/16

St. Paul

High Temperature

46

46

2015

05/27/16

Bethel

High Temperature

78

75

1981

05/27/16

King Salmon

High Temperature

77

76

2006

05/29/16

Bethel

High Temperature

76

72

2006

05/29/16

Nome

High Temperature

73

72

1981

05/30/16

Barrow

High Temperature

44

44

1927

05/30/16

Kotzebue

High Temperature

70

67

1953

05/31/16

Kotzebue

High Temperature

67

66

2015

05/31/16

Nome

High Temperature

74

74

1990

 

It was the warmest May on record for Barrow with 28.7°F, topping the 28.0°F from 1991. Bethel also had its warmest May with 49.0°F, 0.9°F above the old 1981 record. Similarly, for Kotzebue, with its 40.6°F breaking the 40.3°F from just last year. St. Paul broke its 1979 record of 40.6°F by just 0.2°F. King Salmon topped the 2014 record of 48.9°F with 49.0°F. Finally the 52.0°F mean for Talkeetna broke the 2004 record of 51.5°F

 

It was the second warmest May on record for Anchorage with 52.5, 0.5°F below the record set just two years ago. Similarly, for Kodiak, with its 50.3°F mean being 2.1°F below the record also from two years ago. Kenai had 48.7°F, second to the record of 49.1°F from 1983. It was the third warmest May for Cold Bay and Yakutat. This May was the forth warmest for Sitka, Homer and Nome.

 

 

Precipitation

 

May's precipitation was marginally higher than expected, 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 16 days of the month reported above normal values, ten reported below normal precipitation totals, while Talkeetna matched it's normal of 1.63". There were no days during the month without any measureable precipitation at all of the 19 First Order Stations. This is the same deviation (3%) as May 2015. The greatest daily deviation of 278% occurred on the 2nd. The leading station with a greater than normal precipitation amount was King Salmon with 154% above normal. Juneau reported 67% above normal, while Barrow was the relatively driest station at just 39% of normal precipitation observed. This is the third wettest May on record for King Salmon and Nome.

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

0.33

0.72

-0.39

-54%

46%

Annette

6.29

5.56

0.73

13%

113%

Barrow

0.07

0.18

-0.11

-61%

39%

Bethel

1.45

1.14

0.31

27%

127%

Bettles

0.54

0.88

-0.34

-39%

61%

Cold Bay

1.70

2.60

-0.90

-35%

65%

Delta Junction

0.71

0.90

-0.19

-21%

79%

Fairbanks

0.78

0.60

0.18

30%

130%

Gulkana

0.52

0.65

-0.13

-20%

80%

Homer

0.69

0.82

-0.13

-16%

84%

Juneau

5.67

3.40

2.27

67%

167%

King Salmon

3.17

1.25

1.92

154%

254%

Kodiak

3.25

5.62

-2.37

-42%

58%

Kotzebue

0.65

0.41

0.24

59%

159%

McGrath

1.17

1.09

0.08

7%

107%

Nome

1.22

0.86

0.36

42%

142%

St. Paul Island

0.80

1.13

-0.33

-29%

71%

Talkeetna

1.62

1.62

0.00

0%

100%

Yakutat

6.74

8.21

-1.47

-18%

82%

 

Daily mean precipitation deviation from the normal for the First Order Stations for May 2015.

 

 

May's highest monthly precipitation total reported for a First Order Station was 6.74" at Yakutat, and Yakutat also reported the highest daily total of 1.99" on the 6th.

 

The normal for total snowfall in May for the 16 First Order Stations that report snow is 15.6", however, only Barrow reported snowfall this May with just 0.9".

 

The table below lists the daily precipitation records set in May.

 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

05/02/16

Fairbanks

Precipitation

0.42

0.09

1989

05/06/16

Haines Airport

Precipitation

1.14

1.12

2012

05/06/16

Juneau

Precipitation

1.56

1.10

1965

05/06/16

Sitka

Precipitation

2.24

1.89

1971

05/10/16

Nome

Precipitation

0.34

0.25

1988

05/17/16

Annette

Precipitation

1.65

1.02

2000

05/17/16

Ketchikan

Precipitation

1.99

1.61

1975

05/21/16

Bettles

Precipitation

0.28

0.22

1986

05/25/16

Nome

Precipitation

0.39

0.25

2001

 

 

 

Newsworthy Events

 

The birch pollen count exceeded 4,200 on May 2nd in Fairbanks, a new local record, which also approached the world record of 4,696 from Denmark in 2014. The Anchorage pollen count for the 3rd was 210, but had been higher the week before. A count of 175 over a 24-hour period is considered high for pollen. Also on the 3rd, avalanche reduction efforts were deployed along milepost 241 to 247 of the Dalton Highway. This action was repeated on the Dalton Highway on the 6th and 10th. On the 5th a major wildfire in Canada resulted in the closure of the Alaska Highway near milepost 80. The Alaska Highway is the major land access to Alaska from the lower 48 states. On the same day a new coal seam fire flared up near Healy, bringing the total for the year to four coal seam fires burning in the area.

 

A flood warning was issued for Deering when a combination of an ice jam, recent rains and snow melt pushed the Inmachuk River to flood the airport on the 11th. By mid-month burn permits were suspended for Interior and Railbelt areas due to dry and record warm weather, while Red Flag warnings were issued for the Upper Tanana River and Forty Mile areas. Anchorage issued a fire danger alert on for the 15th and 16th due to very warm weather and high winds. Northway and Eagle reported pea sized hail also on the 25th from an intense thunderstorm.

 

Snow was reported from Eagle in the Interior to Denali National Park in the Alaska Range as an arctic cold front pushed the recent, record warm air mass out and collided with a wet air mass from the Gulf of Alaska. Temperatures in Tok went from over 80°F to below 31°F with snow, the light frost killing some vegetation in gardens. The Denali Highway was opened to traffic from the Parks Highway to the Richardson Highway on the 18th. Flood watches were issued for the Colville River due to ice jams on the 18th, and high water continued in the area till the end of the month. The next day the Top of the World Highway was opened to traffic. A flood advisory for flooding along the Kuparuk River at the Dalton Highway Bridge due to an ice jam was issued on the 22nd. Snowfall was reported in the Chugach Mountains near Anchorage, in Denali Park in the Alaska Range, and Brooks Range on the 22nd.

 

A wildfire in Anchorage near Eagle River broke out on the 27th and was fought aggressively on the 27th and was reported 100% controlled the next day. Burn suspension was put in place for the areas of Tok, Fairbanks and the Mat-Su area due to fire danger on the 29th. A major wildfire, the Medfra Fire, 50 miles southeast of McGrath, was reported on the 29th, and smokejumpers, two air tankers, and other fire crews were called in due to the danger. By the 31st, the Medfra Fire had merged with another fire as was estimated at 8,000 acres. This fire is one of a number of "hold over fires" from the record fires season last summer. By the end of May at least 16 "hold over fires" had flared up.

 

 

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.