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2013 December Monthly Report


Highlights

The cold that started the month off resulted in air quality alerts being issued for Fairbanks and North Pole on the 1st and 2nd. The cold snap also caused localized flooding on the 3rd along Chester Creek in Anchorage as the creek froze from the bottom up in phenomena called 'anchor ice'; the result of cold snap and warm seasonal rains. The first warm spell hit on the 4th, and a freezing rain advisory was issued for Anchorage and Mat-Su areas. Most schools in the area were closed on the 5th, and the advisory was extended into the Interior including Fairbanks. Travel advisories were issued for Interior roads.

The 10th saw a change in weather that brought heavy snow to blanket the Interior with up to 5" of snow. Up to 6,000 households went without power again as the snow caused widespread outages in the Fairbanks area. An avalanche blocked the Dalton Highway from mile 243-245. High winds and drifting snow closed the Steese Highway on the 11th at Eagle Summit, and the winds generated more power outages with up to 4,500 again in the dark in the Fairbanks area. Also on the 11th strong storms impacting the Southeast generating record snowfall and precipitation events, and caused power outages for up to 600 homes. Snowy weather from the 13th to the 15th brought 13.5" of snow to Anchorage, including the record setting 8.5" on the 14th, and total of 26" in Girdwood area.

The cold spell around the 16th brought back the air quality alerts for Fairbanks and North Pole. Flooding started in the Butte area as cold and lack of snowfall caused minor channels that flow to the Matanuska River to freeze up. The 18th saw blizzard warning issued for the western Kenai Peninsula and Mat-Su areas. The fluffy snow on top of icy roads resulted in a high number of vehicle accidents. At the same time, winter storm warnings were dispensed for northern portions of the Southeast Panhandle and Bethel areas. The storm in the Southeast generated minor damage at the Gustavus ferry terminal and record snowfall in Yakutat and Annex Creek. Heavy snow loads resulted in the sinking of a few boats in the Juneau area.

The 23rd saw the Steese Highway at Eagle Summit closed again due to high winds and blowing snow. Temperatures dropped again and Fairbanks had its coldest day of the winter on the 26th at -41°F, while the lowest temperature that day was recorded at Chicken with a bone chilling -58°F. North Pole reported in at -48°F. The cold once again resulted in air quality alerts being issued for Fairbanks and North Pole. All the snowfall during the month generated elevated avalanche danger for the Chugach and Kenai Mountains at the end of the month.