2015 September Monthly Report
September started off with frost warnings for Anchorage and other areas in the Southcentral region as well as for Fairbanks and other Interiors areas on the 1st. Sandy Beach road from Thorne Bay to Coffman Cove was closed on the 2nd after more than six inches of rain in the area damaged the road. The high water from August along the Chena River near Fairbanks continued for several days into September. On the 5th warnings were issued for rising water levels in the lower Kenai River at Soldotna and Kenai after the glacier dammed lake above Skilak Lake released its water. On the 6th, the fire crews started to leave the last staffed fire – the Twin Creeks Fire on Kodiak Island. The last crewmembers left on the 11th. That brought to a close the second highest wildfire season on record with a total of 768 fires and 5.2 millions acres burned, only surpassed by summer 2004, when 6.3 million acres burned. More than 3,000 fire fighters were working various fires across the state earlier in the summer.
Wet, windy weather was forecasted for Southeastern areas on the 8th, followed by flooding warnings on the 9th and 10th. High wind advisories were issued for the 9th for areas in the north of the Alaska Range, and for high surf warnings for Saint Lawrence Island. The next day the wind warnings were issued for the western Brooks Range. Fairbanks received its first trace of snow of the season on the 12th, about nine days early, with some nearby areas measuring up to 1".
Gale warnings were issued on the 13th for the northern Gulf Coast, while Denali Park was expected to get heavy rain and snow. The summer season ended at Denali on the 14th. The storm system moved north on the 14th with winter weather advisories issued for the southeastern Brooks Range for up to nine inches of snow for higher elevations. Another storm was forecasted for the northern and central panhandle on the 16th. This storm came on top of the already water saturated surface and by the end of the storm a number of creeks were at bankfull. Fresh snow was reported at Bettles on the 19th and at the Eielson Visitors Center (more than 10") in Denali Park on the 20th, and up to 18" was expected in other parts of the park. The 21st was the last day lottery winners could drive the park road. Travel advisors were issued for snow and freezing rain for the Parks Highway near the park entrance on the 22nd.
The 22nd also saw high surf and strong wind warnings for areas around the Chukchi Sea issued with a strong low-pressure system that had moved into the Arctic areas. Winter weather advisories were issued for the middle Tanana Valley, including Fairbanks, and areas of the Alaska and Brooks Ranges on the 25th for significant snow, gusting winds and blowing snow over the summits. Up to nine inches was reported in areas around Fairbanks. High wind warnings were issued for the passes along the Parks Highway on the 27th, while a winter advisory was issued for areas near the southern Brooks Range for up to eight inches of snow. The next day coastal flood watches were in place for areas around Yakutat for a combination of high tides and strong onshore winds.
The weather event of the month started with winter storm warnings and travel advisories for Interior roads being issued on the 28th for heavy snow starting the next day. The storm impacted much of the mainland of Alaska with record snowfall in some areas. The snow, followed, by rain, generated roving power outages in the Fairbanks area due to laden trees being knocked down or bending onto power lines. The outages continued past the end of the month. Up to 21,000 houses were without power at the peak of the outages. Busses were delayed due to the road conditions, while some roads were snarled due to snow and lack of traffic lights. The power outages also affected a number of cell towers. Schools were canceled on the 30th in the Fairbanks area. College hills near Fairbanks reported the highest storm total of 16.5". Anchorage also received its first snowfall of the season on the 29th with 0.3", and then 2.5" more fell the next day causing a number of power outages.
Heavy rains and high winds were also experienced from Yakutat to the northern panhandle areas on the 28th and 29th. Peak gusts of up to 96 mph were recorded on Sheep Mountain, and 73 mph at Cape Spencer. Finally, high winds blew ash from the 1912 eruption of Novarupta Volcano on the Alaska Peninsula into the Kodiak area on the 30th.