2016 December Monthly Report
On December 1st, the Parks Highway near milepost 163 was closed due to poor visibility. Total snowfall on the 1st at Black Rapids Lodge was 2'. The storm on the 2ndin the Southeast area brought winds up to 90 mph at Cape Decision, 58 mph at Annette, and 53 mph at Ketchikan and Klawock. Kodiak reported winds up to 83 mph on the 2nd. Also on the 2nd, King Salmon hit a low temperature of -20°F, the first time it was that cold for King Salmon in almost two years. A winter weather advisory was issued for the Central Interior on the 2nd as well, and the snowfall totals in the Fairbanks area topped 7" in the hills by the 3rd. The next day Sitka reported 6" of snowfall, while high winds continued across the Panhandle.
A cold spell settled in across much of the state on the 5th, with multi-year lows reached at a number of locations in the Southcentral area. Soldotna (_17°F), Kenai (_14°F) and Palmer (-12°F) had their coldest temperatures in nearly three years. For the Interior areas, -43°F was reported at Atigun Pass, -40°F at Bettles and -36°F at Fairbanks. The cold continued the next day with -50°F reported at Chalkyitsik and _48°F at Fort Yukon. Then on the 7th, Chalkyitsik reported a low of -51°F, and _52°F the next day. Temperatures stayed about the same until the 9th, and then started to abate after the 10th. In Southeast the cold was paired with high winds and snow, with winter weather advisories issued for much of the Panhandle for high winds and snowfall. The Haines Highway reported _18°F on the 6th, and -9°F was reported at Juneau. The wind chill in the White Pass was below -30°F. The snowfall total for Pelican for the 7th (16.0") and 8th (15.7") was 31.7", the greatest two-day snowfall on record for this location. A total of 17.8" was reported at Mud Bay and 11" at downtown Juneau. Gust up to 60 mph were reported in the Juneau area.
The cold persisted in the Southeast, and the high of 5°F in Mendenhall Valley at Juneau on the 12th was the coldest high since January 7th, 2009, almost eight years. All the snow in the area allowed the Eaglecrest to begin normal winter hours on the 12th. Avalanche abatement occurred along the Thane Road at Juneau on the 14th. The next day the Juneau Airport had had at least 6" of snowpack for a week, the longest streak for this much snow on the ground, and the low of 8°F at the airport on the 15thgave eight days in a row with single digit temperatures, the first time for that length in a decade.
Snowfall totals in the Fairbanks area on the 17th went up to 6" north of town. A strong winter storm hit Western Alaska on the 17th, with gusts up to 60 mph on the St. Lawrence Island. A buoy (46072) located south of the Aleutian Islands reported a wave height of 56' on the 18th, then stopped reporting. Two Alaska Airlines planes reported being struck by lighting on the 20th from the storm in the Gulf of Alaska. Heavy snow along the back of Turnagain Arm and in Turnagain Pass on Christmas Eve and day resulted in avalanche warnings being issued. A rare winter wildfire burning in the duff was reported near the Delta Junction School on the 29th.
The month and year ended with a severe storm impacting much of Western, Southcentral and Interior Alaska starting on the 29th. Hazardous driving conditions were reported along parts of the Parks, Elliot and Dalton Highways on the 29th. The next day, hazardous driving conditions were reported along parts of the Steese, Elliot and Dalton Highways, and the Steese Highway was closed from milepost 101 to 114 on the 31st.
Some notable peak winds on the 30th and 31st were: Savoonga (80 mph) Cape Romanzof (76 mph), Circle Hot Springs (54 mph), Fairbanks (52 mph), Arctic Village (43 mph), Kilik Pass (53 mph), Ella Creek (79 mph), Buckland (53 mph), Barrow (55 mph), Kavik river (61 mph), St. Michael (58 mph), Barter Island (59 mph), Eagle Creek (70 mph), Wonder Lake (57 mph), Blair Lake (59 mph) Shishmaref (51 mph), Anderson (51 mph) and Kotzebue (48 mph).
Minor flooding was reported at Golovin and Shaktoolik, while water covered the Gamble runway. Hatcher and Turnagain Passes each reported 7" of snow. The high winds in the Fairbanks area resulted in up to 4,000 people losing power. Road crews worked around the clock in the Interior to clear roads of the record snowfall, more than 14". Fairbanks area Park and Recreation facilities closed early on the 30th. Savoonga experienced damages to a number of buildings, up to 30, including some lost roofs, and applied for disaster aid to cope with the storm damage.