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2015 November Monthly Report


Highlights

November started out with winter weather and gale warnings and watches extending from the Bering Strait to the Canadian border as a storm barreled out of the Bering Sea. High winds, freezing spray, and coastal flooding warnings were also issued. Snowfall in the Anchorage area left roads a mess helping cause numerous vehiclecrashes on the 2nd. Commuters were warned of more snow and problems the next day. High wind warnings were issued for the Aleutians Islands and gusts up to 75 mph were measured at Adak. Warnings and watches continued into the 3rd. Snowfalls up 7" were forecasted for portions of the Interior on the 4th.

Storm warnings switched to the Southeast on the 5th for gales with winds up to 45 mph. Up to 7" of snow was expected at White Pass along the Klondike Highway. Coastal flooding watches returned the Bering Strait area on the 6th, while a travel advisory was issued for Fairbanks for slick roads as the temperatures hovered around the freezing point. The Southcentral area was warned of another round of snow/mixed rain also on the 6th. Arctic coastal waters saw heavy freezing spray, gale warnings and coastal flooding on the 7th. Heavy snow was forecasted for Southcentral with accumulation up to a foot, low visibility and difficult travel on both the 7th and 8th. High winds also impeded travel along the Parks Highway with gusts up to 70 mph. Also on the 8th the storm pushed in the central Interior with blowing snow along the Elliott Highway, while the storm and coastal flooding warnings continued for areas along the western coasts and Seward Peninsula. Anchorage area schools were closed on the 8th in response the icy roads. Schools were also closed in Unalaska on the 8th, while property damage was reported in the area due to hurricane force winds, with a gust up to 93 mph measured at Akutan.

Heavy snow, up to 8", was again forecasted for the Klondike Highway on the 10th, while heavy rain and high winds were forecasted for the Southeast coastal areas and seas in the Gulf of Alaska up to 40 ft. on the 10th and 11th from multiple storms. Hyder received up to 10" of snow on the 10th. Boat owners were asked to check their boats in Juneau Harbor after the storms. Heavy snow was reported west of Fairbanks on the 11th with Keystone Ridge reporting 6.5". The winter weather in Southcentral resulted in more than a dozen avalanches in Hatcher Pass. A wind gust of 71 mph was reported at Valdez on the 12th.

Fairbanks saw the temperatures drop to -20°F on the 14th. Anchorage hit a high of just 6°F on the 16th: the first time the high has been that low since December 25, 2013, and the cold snap continued into the next day for Southcentral. Heavy snow hit the northern Panhandle on the 16th with 20" at the Haines Customs Stations, and then on the 17th Yakutat totaled over 10", Elfin Cove measured 9.0" while Juneau totaled 10.0" on the 18th: this is the highest one day snowfall in Juneau since the 13.9" from November 23, 2011. The annual winter closure of Montana Creek Road near Juneau started on the 17th.

Another series of winter storms resulted in storm warnings and watches for gale force winds, freezing spray and blizzard conditions from the western coastal areas to the eastern Interior on the 18th and 19th with snow accumulation up to 10" anticipated in some areas. Similar warnings were issued for the northern Panhandle and Southcentral areas, with possible mixed snow and rain for areas around Anchorage. Thompson Pass was expected to receive up to 20". Some schools were closed in Susitna Valley on the 20th after up to 18" snow fell. High winds were experienced along the Parks, Richardson Highways through the passes, and along the Alaska Highway up to the Canadian boarder on the 21st, while avalanche warnings were issued for Hatcher Pass due to the new snow.

Also on the 19th heavy rain was forecast for the Northern Panhandle with blizzard warnings for the Klondike Highway with accumulation up to 14". The rain prompted concern for the result of the rain on the deep snowpack that had just formed and residents were asked to remove snow to allow for proper drainage along streets in communities in the northern Panhandle. Boat owners were requested to check on their boats and motorists were warned of icy roads. The Klondike Highway was closed due to an avalanche on the 20th.

The storm warnings for the west coast and interior areas to the Canadian border continued on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th for blizzard conditions and coastal flood watches. Snowfalls totaling up to 8" and wind gusts up to 55 mph were expected. Freezing rain and forced most schools closed in Mat-Su Borough on the 24th and there were reports of a number of vehicle accidents. Hatcher Pass Road was closed due to an avalanche. Whiteout driving conditions closed the Richardson and Steese Highways, while wrecks blocked the Parks Highway on the 25th and motorists were warned against travel on the Parks Highway due to driving conditions until the 26th. In addition, a winter advisory predicted an additional 3" to 5" of snow along portions of the Parks Highway on the 25th and 26th. Chulitna measured 12" while areas near Fairbanks as well as Harding Lake totaled 7". Chulitna received another 10" the next day for a total of 83" on the ground. The rain in Anchorage resulted in warnings of ponding water on roadways and that streams were approaching bankfull. More heavy rain was forecasted for the Panhandle from the 25th to 29th with totals up to 6" predicted, and 10" possible.

The generally warm temperatures resulted in warning against travel along the Kuskokwim River due to thinning of the ice. Avalanche control was performed along the Parks Highway between miles 216 and 220 on the 27th. The month ended with advisories for snow along the Haines Highway, with up to 7" expected.