Alaska Climate Research Center

The Alaska State Climate Center
The Alaska State Climate Center
The Alaska State Climate Center
Home > Monthly Reports > 2017 March Monthly Report

2017 March Monthly Report


On the 1st of March avalanche reduction efforts were conducted in Atigun Pass on the Dalton Highway. At the same time, work was begun to clear the avalanches that hit the area on February 27th. Those avalanches had hit four semi-trucks. The road was finally opened the next day, but hazardous driving conditions were noted through the Atigun Pass area for the next several days, and avalanche reduction efforts continued in Atigun Pass on the 10th and 11th. Heavy snowfalls were recorded along the Southeastern area of the State on the 1st with Annex Creek reporting over two feet of snow, while Pelican reported a foot. Heavy snowfalls continued the next three days with Hyder reporting 10" of snow on the 2nd, Thorne Bay reporting 6" on the 3rd, and 9.5" on the 4th, while Hollis reported 10" of snow. Debris from multiple avalanches closed the Klondike Highway on the 3rd. Wind gusts up to 79 mph were reported in Thompson Pass on the 2nd, while winds up to 67 mph were creating blizzard conditions at Kaktovik the next day. Winds up to 71 mph were reported at Eldred Rock and 86 mph at Cross Sound on the 6th.

Temperatures plunged in the Interior region on the 6th with Salcha River dropping to -50°F, -47°F was reported at Jim River on the Dalton Highway, -43°F at Smith Lake near Fairbanks, -42°F at Livingood and Tok and -38°F at Fairbanks Airport. The cold weather greeted the restart of the Iditarod sled dog race, which had moved the race restart from Wasilla to Fairbanks due to poor trail conditions in the Southcentral area. The cold weather continued
the next day with the Fairbanks' Airport reporting -38°F again, and that matched the record low for the day set in 1972. Other temperatures occurring around the Interior: -44°F at Bettles and Northway, -41°F at Livingood and Goldstream Creek. The Fairbank's Airport reported -39°F on the 8th, and that was the third latest day for that temperature on record. Other cold temperatures on the 8th: -44°F at Northway, -42°F at Goldstream Creek and -40°F at Bettles. The cold extended across the State with temperatures in the single digits reported down in the Southeast.

More heavy snow impacted the Southeast on the 13th, with more than a foot falling at Juneau, resulting in late school bus service in the area. Other snowfall totals from the storm: 13.5" at Hyder, 9.2" at Pelican, 8" at Haines, and 6" at Auke Bay. Snow depth at the Juneau Airport reached 20" on the 15th, and the Juneau area boat owners were warned to check their boats due to the heavy snowfalls. The heavy snow also delayed the planned construction on Franklin Street in Juneau. Hazardous driving conditions were reported along portions of the Elliott Highway on the 15th.

On the 17th, twelve hours of daylight was reached at across the State. Anchorage Airport finally hit 32°F on the 20th, the third latest date on record to reach freezing. Cold temperatures returned to the Interior on the 24th with -28°F reported at Jim River on the Dalton Highway and Smith Lake near Fairbanks, -27°F at Goldstream Creek, -26°F at Bettles and Fort Yukon, -22°F at Eielson AFB and Fort Wainwright and -20°F at Fairbanks Airport. The continued cold weather at Fairbanks allowed the Ice Park to stay open till April 2nd. The Dalton highway saw more avalanche reduction efforts on the 28th. This Radar image from March 29th shows the heavy snowfall impacting the Anchorage bowl area. Image courtesy of the Nation Weather Service.

Heavy, record setting, snow fell in the Anchorage area on the 28th and 29th. The storm dropped up to a foot of snow in the Anchorage bowl area. Schools were closed, and numerous vehicle accidents were reported. The heavy snow resulted in avalanche warning for areas of the Southcentral, and avalanche reduction work was performed along the Richardson Highway on the 30th. Heavy rainfall hit the Panhandle on the 31st, and a number of rainfall records were set from Yakutat to Ketchikan.