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2015 January Monthly Report


Highlights

January started off with high Taku winds, with gusts up to 78 mph in Douglas Harbor, creating minor property damage in the Juneau area on the 4th. Minor power outages were also reported. North Pole reported its worst air quality on the 5th with a strong inversion in place trapping cold air. The 8th and 9th saw freezing rain forecast for the Southcentral and Southwest areas of the State. High wind warnings were issued for areas of the Interior and Northern Alaska on the 8th. Freezing rain hit Alaska Range roads on the 13th, cancelling school busses in the Healy area. The Parks Highway was also blocked in the Healy area due to stranded semi-trucks. Stretches of the Parks Highway through the Alaska Range were described as Ôvery difficultÕ while similar portions of the Richardson Highway were described as ÔdifficultÕ to travel. Areas of the Interior to the north received snowfall.

By mid-month the continuing warm winter forced the delay of the Tustumena 200 sled dog race by two weeks to the end of February. A bulldozer was needed to clear ice jams from the Kuskokwim River created during winter thaws from late last year to clear a trail needed for the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race. Anchorage residents were warned of slick road conditions on the 15th. The Eaglecrest ski area in Juneau was closed due to warm weather and rain on the 15th and 16th, then closed again on the 19th until more snow was on the ground. Treacherous road conditions had developed in the Fairbanks area on the 19th.

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warning across the Southeast on the 19th and widespread landslide warnings on the 20th due to the heavy rain from the storm. Heavy snow was reported in the passes in the region; White Pass totaled more than 14". On the 21st flood advisories were issued for small streams to rise to minor flood stage. Ketchikan received more than 10" of rain in just 40 hours during the storm, and the Ketchikan Dam was monitored for signs of failure as water topped the dam. The record setting rain turned the Ketchikan Creek into a raging torrent and minor flooding prompted some residents to be evacuated from the area. The heavy rains prompted the Juneau Harbor to advise boat owners to check their vessels for safety and a small mudslide dumped onto the Glacier Highway. The Klondike Highway was closed on the 22nd due to rockslides.

The Southcentral region was forecast to get its heaviest snowfall of the winter on the 22nd and 23rd. Talkeetna had over a foot of new snow from the event. The snow continued into that weekend. Winter Storm warnings were then issued for the Interior as the storm pushed north. After that last storm, the Interior got its first true cold snap of the winter over the last week of the month, with temperatures dropping to -48°F at the Fort Wainwright Airport, while Granite Creek near Delta Junction bottomed out at -55°F. The cold snap was not limited to the Interior and crept down to the Southcentral region. Anchorage officially dropped to -1°F on the 25th, for a total of 394 days above 0°F. This was the second longest streak in AnchorageÕs history, far short of the 683 days from Jan 18th, 2000 and Nov 20th, 2001. The cold spell in much of the state at this time was balanced by record warm temperatures in the Southeast. Temperatures again turned cool in the Southeast during the last part of the month, and heavy snowfall forced the Juneau busses to switch to winter routes.