January 2017 Statewide Summary

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

January 2017

 

Temperature

 

After fifteen months in a row with mean statewide temperatures above normal, January 2017 hit the mean monthly normal for January. The monthly mean temperature of all First Order Stations was 14.4°F, matching the normal of 14.4°F. This is 7.9°F below the January 2016 mean of 22.3°F. Calculating the mean daily temperatures of the First Order Stations, 15 days of the month were above the 30-year normal, with 16 days below normal. Above normal temperatures started the month, and above normal temperatures the ended of the month, with the transition to colder and mixed temperatures occurring between around 7th and 23rd (see Figure). The peak positive deviation for the month occurred on the 26th at 17.0°F. The greatest negative deviation occurred on the 18th with -17.8°F. Monthly mean temperatures (see table) were above normal for eight of the 19 First Order Stations. As was the case in October, November and December, Barrow held the spot with the greatest positive deviation in January with a significant 13.1°F above its normal of ‑0.3°F. Kotzebue had the next greatest positive deviation with 4.5°F. The station with the greatest negative deviation was Talkeetna with -6.7°F. Two other stations had greater than -3.0°F deviations: Anchorage and King Salmon both with ‑3.5°F.

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

13.6

17.1

-3.5

Annette

38.8

37.0

1.8

Barrow

-0.3

-13.4

13.1

Bethel

8.4

6.6

1.8

Bettles

-12.1

-10.0

-2.1

Cold Bay

26.5

28.2

-1.7

Delta Junction

-1.7

-1.0

-0.7

Fairbanks

-9.5

-7.9

-1.6

Gulkana

-1.8

-2.9

1.1

Homer

23.5

24.8

-1.3

Juneau

29.8

28.3

1.5

King Salmon

12.7

16.2

-3.5

Kodiak

28.2

30.5

-2.3

Kotzebue

1.7

-2.8

4.5

McGrath

-6.8

-6.5

-0.3

Nome

5.8

5.2

0.6

St. Paul Island

25.4

25.1

0.3

Talkeetna

7.5

14.2

-6.7

Yakutat

27.8

28.1

-0.3

 

 

The highest daily maximum temperature of the First Order Stations for January was 50°F reported at Annette on the 17th. Annette also held the spot for the highest mean temperature for the month at 38.8°F. The lowest temperature of -56°F was observed at Bettles on the 19th and Bettles also reported the lowest January mean monthly temperature with a value of -12.1°F.

 

 

Daily mean temperature deviation from the normal temperature for the mean of the First Order Stations for January 2017.

 

There were only a limited number of new daily temperature record events in January, and all were new highs. Barrow set three new daily temperature records during the first three days of the month.

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

01/01/17

Barrow

High Temperature

36

30

1928

01/01/17

Kotzebue

High Temperature

38

36

1968

01/02/17

Barrow

High Temperature

34

30

1968

01/03/17

Barrow

High Temperature

30

29

2004

01/26/17

Juneau

High Temperature

46

45

2016

 

 

Precipitation

 

Continuing the trend from December, January's precipitation was significantly above normal, with the overall precipitation calculated as 27% above the average; this calculation was based on the mean of the deviations in percentage of the First Order Stations. Eleven of the First Order Stations and 16 days of the month reported above normal values. This is quite a bit wetter than January 2016, which reported a negative precipitation deviation of 23% below normal. The greatest daily precipitation amount occurred on the 16th. The leading station with a greater than normal monthly precipitation amount was Barrow with 0.47", or 262% above normal. Anchorage was the station with the next greatest deviation with 134% above normal. The relatively driest station was King Salmon with just 15% of normal.

 

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

1.71

0.73

0.98

134%

234%

Annette

8.24

10.73

-2.49

-23%

77%

Barrow

0.47

0.13

0.34

262%

362%

Bethel

1.21

0.78

0.43

55%

155%

Bettles

0.92

0.81

0.11

14%

114%

Cold Bay

5.13

3.16

1.97

62%

162%

Delta Junction

0.50

0.31

0.19

61%

161%

Fairbanks

0.96

0.58

0.38

66%

166%

Gulkana

0.83

0.46

0.37

80%

180%

Homer

2.67

2.63

0.04

2%

102%

Juneau

6.27

5.35

0.92

17%

117%

King Salmon

0.15

1.02

-0.87

-85%

15%

Kodiak

2.95

8.29

-5.34

-64%

36%

Kotzebue

0.55

0.62

-0.07

-11%

89%

McGrath

0.54

1.09

-0.55

-50%

50%

Nome

0.72

0.94

-0.22

-23%

77%

St. Paul Island

1.51

1.58

-0.07

-4%

96%

Talkeetna

1.68

1.36

0.32

24%

124%

Yakutat

13.39

13.66

-0.27

-2%

98%

 

Daily mean precipitation deviation from the normal for the First Order Stations for January 2017.

 

 

January's highest monthly precipitation total reported for a First Order Station was 13.39" at Yakutat, and Yakutat also reported the highest daily total of 2.53" on the 17th. There were a limited number of precipitation records as noted in the table below.

 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

01/01/17

Barrow

Precipitation

0.32

0.16

1924

01/16/17

Delta Junction

Precipitation

0.20

0.19

1952

01/16/17

Juneau

Precipitation

1.49

1.01

2005

01/16/17

Skagway

Precipitation

1.10

0.57

1928

01/30/17

Cold Bay

Precipitation

0.74

0.57

1988

 

 

Snowfall

 

January was the second month this winter with above average snowfall across the State, but like December, just barely. Based on the mean of the deviations from all 15 stations, which measure snowfall, the overall deviation from the normals was 2% above the expected amount. This is considerably greater than the snowfall deviation from January 2016, which had a 60% deficit. Six of the 15 First Order Stations reported above normal snowfalls. Anchorage had the greatest positive deviation at 181% above its expected amount with a total of 31.7". Anchorage also reported the highest one-day snowfall at 10.3" on the 21st, a new daily record, breaking the 1961 record of 3.8". This is the second highest one-day snowfall for Anchorage in January after the 11.2" from January 1st, 2007. The greatest snow depth was 27" and was reported at Anchorage on the 21st. There were a limited number of snowfall records as noted in the table below. Snowpack continued to be low, with around half of normal.

 

Station

Snowfall

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

31.7

11.3

20.4

181%

281%

Annette

1.0

7.6

-6.6

-87%

13%

Barrow

4.7

2.6

2.1

81%

181%

Bethel

9.8

9.6

0.2

2%

102%

Bettles

13.1

13.9

-0.8

-6%

94%

Cold Bay

12.5

14.1

-1.6

-11%

89%

Fairbanks

17.0

10.3

6.7

65%

165%

Juneau

3.7

27.7

-24.0

-87%

13%

King Salmon

3.0

10.2

-7.2

-71%

29%

Kodiak

7.4

13.0

-5.6

-43%

57%

Kotzebue

11.3

9.1

2.2

24%

124%

McGrath

14.7

15.7

-1.0

-6%

94%

Nome

10.4

12.7

-2.3

-18%

82%

St. Paul Island

14.2

12.6

1.6

13%

113%

Yakutat

27.6

31.9

-4.3

-13%

87%

 

 

 

Snowfall Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

01/01/17

Barrow

Snowfall

3.1

1.6

1924

01/13/17

Anchorage

Snowfall

4.0

2.5

1990

01/16/17

Anchorage

Snowfall

5.3

3.7

2008

01/19/17

McGrath

Snowfall

4.8

4.7

1949

01/20/17

Anchorage

Snowfall

2.2

1.9

2011

01/21/17

Anchorage

Snowfall

10.3

3.8

1981

 

 

Newsworthy Events

 

The New Year started off with Yakutat registering a low of 16°F, 20°F colder than Barrow at 36°F for the same day. Avalanche reduction hazard efforts were conducted along the Dalton Highway in the Brooks Range, while the Steese Highway was closed from mile 80 to 114. The Steese Highway was closed in the same area on the 3rd, while a travel advisory was issued for the Dalton Highway on the 5th due to high winds and being impassable along the northern end of the road. The Elliot Highway experienced hazardous driving conditions. Notable wind speeds from the snow storm at the end of the year were: 52 mph at Northway, 62 mph at Sheenjek River in the Southeaster Brooks Range, 66 mph at Inigok Airfield in Northwestern Brooks Range, 70 mph at Jago River in Northeastern Brooks Range, 61 mph at Fort Greely, 75 mph at Camden Bay and 77 mph at Cape Lisburne. In Fairbanks, the road crews were still mopping up on the 6th of January.

 

The Klondike Highway was closed on the 6th, while Taku winds hit the Juneau area on the 9th with minor damage reported. Winds were reported up to 94 mph at downtown Juneau, 72 mph at Eldred Rock and 61 mph at Point Bishop near Juneau. High winds along the northern Panhandle on the 8th included: 67 mph at Fiver Fingers, 66 mph at Eldred Rock, 55 mph at Skagway and 52 mph at Yakutat. Hazardous driving conditions were reported along the Dalton Highway again on the 11th, and then for the Elliott Highway on the 13th. More snow in the Southcentral area on the 13th included: over 18" at Valdez, over 9" at Eagle River, and 6" to 7" reported at locations from Palmer to Anchorage.

 

High winds in the Southeast on the same day ranged up to 67 mph at Lincoln Island, 54 mph at Hydaburg, 52 mph at Juneau and 51 mph at Ketchikan. Hazardous driving conditions were reported along the Haines Highway on the 14th due to heavy rain and black ice on the road. Heavy rains reported along the Panhandle included: 3.89" at Shelter Cove, 3.26" at Ketchikan, 2.78" near Haines and 2.72" at Yakutat. The storm continued along the Panhandle the following day with winds up to 70 mph at Sitka, 61 mph at Hydaburg, 59 mph at Annette, 54 mph at Skagway and 43 mph at Yakutat. The rainfall totals for the storms from 11th to 16th were: 11.70" at Pelican, 7.18" at Yakutat, 6.61" at Ketchikan and 5.54" at Sitka. The Klondike Highway was was closed from the 16th to 18th due to heavy rain and black ice.

 

Snowfall totals for the Southcentral areas on the 16th were 8" at Portage and Hatcher Pass and 8" at Thompson Pass, while parts of Anchorage received 4" to 5". The next day, high winds and drifting snow made for difficult travel along parts of the Parks and Richardson Highways.

 

Extreme cold began to descend across much of the State on the 17th with a temperature range of 101°F from -51°F at McGrath and Tanana to +50°F at Annette. Anchorage Airport hit -15°F on the 18th, and this was the first time in five years this cold of a temperature had been reported. Barrow reported -30°F, and this ended the longest streak of 387 days, on record, of temperatures staying above this mark. Previous record had been 369 days ending on January 20th, 2006. Temperatures dropped lower on the 18th with -51°F reported at Fairbanks Airport, the first time for that temperature in six years, and it has not been colder than -51°F since the -52°F on New Year's Eve 1999. In the Fairbanks area, -59°F was reported near the Salcha River, -52°F at Eielson and ‑51°F at Ft Wainwright. Tanana also reported -59°F and Bettles reported -56°F. The next day Tanana and Bettles reported a low of -53°F. In the Southcentral area temperatures were: -38°F at Talkeetna, -33°F at Wasilla, -20°F at Palmer and -29°F at Kenai. Elliot Highway reported hazardous driving conditions on the 20th. The next day the sun rose at Barrow for the first time in over 2 months.

 

On the 21st, heavy snowfall impacted the Southcentral areas resulting in avalanche warnings being issued for the south and western Kenai Mountains, and hazardous driving conditions reported along the Seward Highway due to snow and high winds up to 50 mph. Moose Pass reported snowfall totals of over 2 feet. The heavy snowfall prompted the city of Seward to declare a local emergency and request aid from the State as more than 2 ½ feet of snow had fallen in the city. The snowstorm gave Anchorage a winter total of 44.3", more than the previous two winters combined, and resulted in a number of vehicle accidents and the collapse of the dome roof of a sports facility. Two days later avalanche reduction efforts were instituted from miles 19 to 45 along the Seward Highway, and this was repeated for miles 80 to 100 on the 26th. Freezing rain in Anchorage on the 26th generated a number of vehicle accidents and the closure of all after school activities. More avalanche warnings were issued on the 26th for the Kenai Mountains and Turnagain Pass.

 

As warmer temperatures pushed across the State, Eielson AFB reported a high of +36°F on the 26th, 89°F warmer than the -53°F from the pervious week. Denali Park reported 43°F on the 26th, with winds up to 60 mph through the passes of the Alaska Range. The warming created ice roads along the Elliott Highway and drivers were warned to avoid the road.

 

More high winds along the Panhandle on the 27th resulted in observations of 84 mph at Cape Decision, 77 mph at Hydaburg, 67 mph at Ketchikan, 62 mph at Sitka and Juneau, and 60 mph at Yakutat. The next day winds topped out at 71 mph at Cape Fairweather, 64 mph at Lincoln Island, 58 mph at Annette, 55 mph at Juneau, and 52 mph at Ketchikan and Yakutat. More snow in the Southcentral area on the 38th totaled up to 8" at Wasilla, 7" at Eagle River and up to 6" around Anchorage. Total January snowfall at sea level at Alyeska was over 56". Toward the end of the month, avalanche reduction efforts were conducted along the Dalton Highway in the Brooks Range.

 

 

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.