2015 August Monthly Report
Wildfire related news led the month with a plane forced down, by smoke, onto the Dalton Highway on then 1st. Warm weather dominated the Southcentral area for the first week of the month, and some new records were set. Red flag warnings for high winds and thunderstorms were issued for the northern slopes of the Brooks Range on the 5th. The Fairbanks area experienced heavy downpours and lightning also on the 5th; no damage was reported, while Eielson AFB reported a total of 0.43" from the series of thunderstorms. A dense smoke advisory was issued for upper and lower Koyukuk Valley and Central Tanana Valley on the 8th. Then on the 10th up to 5" of snow was forecasted for higher elevations in the Brooks Range. High wind gusts on the morning of the 10th led to several power outages in the Fairbanks area. The first frost warnings of the season were issued for the low-lying areas of the Interior on the 15th. Heavy rains were forecasted for the Southcentral region on the starting on the 16th.
Heavy rains impacted the Southeast on the 18th and generated a landslide in Sitka that killed three people. Hail was reported near Valdez on the 19th, and warnings of possible rapidly rising water in Keystone Canyon were issued. Strong thunderstorms were reported in the Gulf of Alaska on the 21st. An uncommon lightning strike in Kenai knocked out power at businesses on the 22nd. Tanacross reported an unusual 1.50" of rain on the 23rd.
More early season snow, of up to 5", was forecasted for the Brooks Range east of Howard Pass on the 24th. In addition, cold storm warnings were issued for most of the Interior for heavy rain, substantial rapid, water level risings and the lowering of the snow level to passes in the eastern Alaska Range with snow accumulation and mixed snow and rain possible. The next day saw flood warnings for the northwestern Brooks Range, as well as flood watches for the Seward Peninsula. The storm generated high surf warnings for the Arctic Coast. Norton Sound had high surf warnings as well as flood warnings issued. The storm continued into the 26th, and winter storm warnings were once again released for areas of the Brooks Range with up to 7" of snow possible, snow at Denali National Park and high winds for the middle Tanana Valley. The Moose Creek Dam on the Chena River was activated on the morning of the 26th, and stayed activated for about a week. Gale coastal flooding warnings for the Arctic Coast were published with winds reported at Barrow over 50 mph and limited flooding due to the high surf. The heavy rain resulted in more flood advisories for the Chena River above the Moose Creek Dam as well as the Kuskokwim River. High winds were forecasted for the Interior areas, Seward, Whittier and Thompson Pass the following day as the storm moved south on the 27th. A power outage for about 2,000 customers was reported in Anchorage while gusts up to 35 mph blew small trees over. Winds up to 45 mph were recorded at Tanacross. High winds up to 60 mph picked up ash from the Katmai Volcano on the Alaska Peninsula and blew it across the Shelikof Strait into the Kodiak area.
More winter storm warnings were issued for northeastern area of the Brooks Range on the 28th for up to 6" of snow and higher elevations near Denali National Park. A sailing of the ferry Chenega was canceled also on the 28th due to high seas in Chatham Strait and Lynn Canal. The high seas also resulted in cancellation of the sailing of the ferry Fairweather from Whittier to Cordova.
An unusual and quick moving wildfire near the small community of Chiniak near Kodiak on the 28th resulted in some evacuations and buildings burned. The fire was believed to be caused by high winds bringing down power lines onto trees. Another late season wildfire erupted in the Mat-Su Borough on the 29th, and jumped to 20 acres quickly before being suppressed. In spite of these small events, most wildfire efforts had been curtailed around the state after the middle of the month due to increased rainfall, and some crews had been sent south to help with fires in the lower 48 states. Widespread frost warnings were issued for the interior on the 30th.