Alaska Climate Research Center

The Alaska State Climate Center
The Alaska State Climate Center
The Alaska State Climate Center
Home > Monthly Reports > 2015 May Monthly Report

2015 May Monthly Report


The ongoing saga with the Sagavanirktok River on the North Slope spilled over from March and April into May. Flooding watches were set on the 15th. Actual flooding returned on the 18th with over two feet of water across the Dalton Highway at the Sagavanirktok River, closing the road. Over the next few days, the flooding extended over some 40 miles of the roadway. Some structures were also flooded as the water encroached on Deadhorse. The flooding ended extending up to 80 miles. The Governor declared a second disaster declaration for the North Slope as Kuparuk and Colville Rivers also flooded. Repairs on the Dalton Highway could not start until around the 25th, when water levels dropped enough due to water flowing back into the mail channel of the Sagavanirktok. The road was still closed to traffic at the end of the month.

The month started out with dense fog warnings for the Kotzebue area on the 1st. The break up season had caused difficult travel along the Elliott Highway, and advisories were issued on the 6th. A human caused wildfire tore through winter-dried grass near Anchor Point and consumed about five acres before being extinguished on the 7th. The 7th also saw the high at Annette hit 72°F, breaking the 70°F barrier for the first time this year for the Southeast. The next day, Barrow finally broke 32°F, with a high of 34°F, for the first time since November 14th. The last sunset till August 2nd happened at Barrow on the 11th. Fairbanks hit its first 70°F day with a high of 71°F on the 13th, about a week early. The Denali Highway was opened for seasonal traffic on the 15th. The break up for the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers was non-eventful this spring as the rivers experienced a 'mushout' of melting in place. Flood warnings were issued for Fort Yukon on the 19th from the Porcupine River, rising due to rapid snowmelt from the high temperatures. No significant problems were reported. Flood watches were issued for the Noatak River on the 20th, as well as for all rivers that drain into the Beaufort Sea on the 21st.

Two small, probably related, human caused wildfires were contained in North Pole on the 14th. Wildfire (Red Flag) warnings were issued over much of the Interior. These Red Flag warnings persisted throughout most of the rest of the month for areas between the Alaska and Brooks Ranges. In some areas, Red Flag warnings were issued alongside flood warnings. Such as one issued for Porcupine River on the 16th. The Bolgen Creek fire, detected on the 16th, near Central had reached 500 acres by the 18th. It was aggressively fought. Another fire was contained to about 15 acres near Delta Junction also on the 16th. Three fires were report in the Healy area on the 19th. On the 20th a fire 80 miles from Tok had jumped the Alaska Highway. It had reached 300 acres by the 21st. Fire fighting planes from Montana and Washington were brought up to have on hand as temperatures reached unseasonable levels. Fire crews were fighting a 1,500-acre wildfire near Eagle on the 25th. Another wildfire was suppressed in North Pole on the 26th.

The Southcentral region also saw fire warnings issued on the 22nd, and these continued to the end of the month. The Point Thompson airfield on the North Slope reported up to 4" of snow on the 30th, as a cold front moved south from the Arctic. High winds in the Interior regenerated fire warnings on the 31st and thunderstorm notices were issued for the Kuskokwim Delta.