2015 April Monthly Report
The blizzard and overflow problems at the Sagavanirktok River resulted in the closure of the Dalton Highway on the 1st. The overflow water near mile 400 that started on March 13th continued to be a problem during April, with limited traffic finally allowed on the 12th. A disaster declaration was issued on the 8th to allow the State to move quickly to procure needed assistance to deal with the problem.
A high wind watch was issued for the Anchorage and Turnagain Arm areas on the 5th. The next day a fire weather watch with high winds was issued for the Matanuska Valley above 1500 feet. High wind warnings were also issued for the Eastern Alaskan Range and Denali areas on the 6th; winds up to 70 mph were forecasted. Whittier reported a gust of 74 mph, and the Anchorage International Airport reported a high gust of 43 mph. In conjunction, areas of the eastern Brooks Range, eastern Beaufort Coast and Bering Strait had winter storm warnings broadcasted.
On the 10th the annual Arctic Man competition was delayed due to poor visibility. The event, uncompleted, was canceled the following day due to the weather. A grass fire in Dillingham destroyed two structures while burning several acres on the 15th. The next day, a power outage, which stretched from the Mat-Su to Interior areas, was caused by lightening strike on the transmission line. Wind advisories and warnings were again issued for the Denali and eastern Alaska Range on the 19th. A wind gust of up to 47 mph was measured at the Fairbanks Airport, and the high winds caused power outages, some property damage and a few small fires from power lines. As a result of the nice weather and high winds the snowpack all but vanished in the Fairbanks area. The 19th was also the first day since September 29th, 2014 that the temperatures in Fairbanks did not dip below the freezing mark.
Winter weather advisories were issued for the northwestern coastal areas on the 19th. Heavy rain was forecasted for the Juneau area for the same day, while snow was forecasted for the Anchorage and Mat-Su areas. The 19th also saw the seasonal closing of the trails in the Chena River Recreation Area due to the spring thaw. The Division of Forestry also urged residents to stay off of logging roads throughout the break up season.
The Nenana Ice Classic annual guessing game came to an end on the 24th when the tripod finally tipped fully over, the sixth earliest breakup since 1917. Also on the 24th, red flag warnings due to low humidity and winds were issued for the Mat-Su area. A flood advisory was published for the Tanana River near Salcha on the 28th, then canceled on the next day as the ice jam dissipated.
The very low snowfall and overall dry conditions over the Southwestern portions of the state resulted in fire risk warnings being disseminated, and preparations were begun for an early fire season. The low snowfall during the winter had a positive outcome; the Alaska Railroad tallied the lowest moose kill in a decade at a total of just 24. This is less than a tenth of the 292 moose struck during the record snowfall winter of 2011-2012.