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2015 March Monthly Report


Highlights

March started off with several schools closed in the Mat-Su borough due to icy roads on the 4th and 5th. On the 5th, winter storm warnings for heavy snow were issued for the Southcentral, Interior and western Alaska areas until the 7th. Chulitna reported 16 " from the storm. Also on the 5th, Hatcher pass was closed to motorized vehicles due to lack of snow. Then after the storm, avalanche warnings were issued for the pass and travel in the area was not advised. The storm resulted in the closure of the Steese Highway at Twelve Mile and Eagle Summits due to blowing snow and high winds.

The ceremonial start of the Iditarod slog dog race was held in Anchorage on the 6th with snow trucked in for the sleds as temperatures hovered around 40°F. The official restart on the 8th was moved to Fairbanks due to the lack of snow in Southcentral at much colder temperatures down in the teens. Colder temperatures returned across the state, and Fairbanks bottomed out at -37°F on the 15th.

Volcanic dust and ash from the 1912 eruption of the Novarupta volcano on the Alaska Peninsula covered Kodiak area on the 12th due to high winds. Some flights were canceled. By mid month several bear sightings had been made in the Juneau area, and residents were warned that bears were stirring early.

Blizzard warnings were issued for portions of the Kenai Peninsula on the 15th. This storm dumped up to two feet in the Turnagain Pass area and generated dangerous avalanche conditions. A number of human triggered avalanches were reported. Unsafe driving conditions were reported on the Dalton Highway on the 16th due to up to 8" of slush from an overflow of water from the Sagavanirktok River around mile 400. An ice dam was constructed to attempt to alleviate the situation and the problem persisted for the rest of the month when an ice jam broke on the 23rd, flooding the roadway again. Also around mid-month the winter moose hunt in Southwest Alaska was extended due to the warm winter. Temperature's soared in the Interior from bone-chilling cold during the second week of the month to near record warmth for the last half of the month. Cold nights and extra warm days resulted in difficult road conditions and increase in road accidents. Winter advisories were issued for Northwestern Alaska on the 20th.

Eaglecrest ski area near Juneau closed early for the season on the 22nd. The warm, dry weather combined with gusty winds prompted fire warnings for the Mat-Su valley area on the 24th, earlier than normal. These warnings were repeated on the 25th. Also on the 24th, snow removal began from the Park Road in Denali National Park. The clearing went quickly and the road was opened on the 31st. Record and near record warm temperatures were recorded for the southern portions of the state starting the week of the 23rd. By the end of the week, the exceptionally warm weather had created a bumper crop of Birch seeds in the Interior areas. The abundance of seeds has been attracting high numbers of birds that feed on them. Two pickup trucks and a bulldozer that tried to assist the trucks that went through the ice on the Kwethluck River on the 30th.

The month ended with blizzard conditions closing the northern portion of the Dalton Highway. This is in addition to the closure of the road near mile 400 as the overflow water from the Sagavanirktok River continued to be a problem.