Category Archives: weather

The remnants of Merbok…

…still packed quite the punch.

Graphic credit: NWS-Fairbanks

The western coast of Alaska was pummeled over the weekend by the remnants of Typhoon Merbok. Sustained winds over 50 mph, with gusts over 90; 50 foot waves and a storm surge 15 feet above high tide left many evacuating to higher ground.

Image credit: NOAA

It was the worst storm our Western Coast has experienced in 50 years, and it has been 70 years since a storm this fierce hit in September.

Front Street, Nome, Alaska; Image credit: S.Kinneen

To its credit, The National Weather Service was remarkably accurate in its forecast of the storm. Several days out, the NWS was getting out the word that this was going to be a devastating flooding event. All the ingredients came together perfectly to create some “very angry seas”.

A house swept off its foundation by flood waters, stuck at the Snake River Bridge in Nome, Alaska; Photo credit: Alaska DOT&PF
From the steps of the school in Golovin, Alaska; Photo credit: Josephine Daniels

High winds have taken roofs off of buildings, one building in Nome suffered from a fire, and the storm surge has evicted hundreds. Many took shelter in schools, or to higher ground.

My favorite village of Newtok has been flooded, and many have taken to the school for shelter. The riverbank at Newtok has eroded between 10-15 feet overnight. Newtok is one of several villages in Alaska in dire need of relocation due to erosion and sinking ground.

Water levels in many flooded villages are not expected to drop until Monday, and in some cases Tuesday. The timing of the storm is particularly difficult, with winter on the horizon. The village of Shaktoolik lost its sea berm to the storm, which leaves it vulnerable to additional winter storms. The village of Chevak lost much of its fishing fleet when boats sank or were damaged in the storm.

We really have two seasons in Alaska: Winter, and Preparing for Winter. Preparing for winter in Western Alaska is now going to be a huge challenge.


Frosty Morning

First Freeze

Officially, Fairbanks hit 32F for the first time this season on Sunday morning. That means we had a string of 114 freeze-free days.

Unofficially, I have already seen a couple of 32 degree mornings at the cabin, but Sunday was the first hard freeze of the season. The temp when I finally ventured outside was 28F, but judging from the frost on leaves and windshields, I would guess it had dropped a couple of degrees cooler.

A new season has begun in Interior Alaska.


Summer ’22 Wrap-up

Data credit: ACCAP; Graphic credit: @AlaskaWx

The Lower 48 remains caught up in the heat of summer, but autumn has taken hold in Alaska. The seasonal graphic that AlaskaWx puts together is a review that I always enjoy, so I’m sharing it here.

Weather-wise, Alaska was all over the map this past summer. Fairbanks had one of our driest summers on record, while Anchorage had a top three driest June, only to then see a top three wettest August.

Toolik Lake had snow in July, while Denali Park saw the white stuff accumulate in August.

The Southeast had an early heatwave, and Cold Bay saw a record early first freeze.

Overall, Alaska has seen 3.11 million acres burn to wildfire, which is the seventh largest burn season since 1950.


Weather sanity has returned to cover Alaska

Thanks to NOAA and the NWS for the cool report

According to NOAA’s extended outlook, the entire Lower 48 is forecast to have above average temperatures, while the entire state of Alaska is forecast to see below average temps. I’m curious as to how often that happens.

Map credit: NOAA

Shades of 2004

ACRC Panorama Cam from UAF Campus

Fairbanks is smoked in. We have a wildfire 60 miles to the southwest and another about the same distance to the northwest. Both were started by lightning.

I went out for lunch today. Upon my return, I smelled like a campfire.

It’s thick.

PM2.5 Levels on Tuesday

The smoke is not as bad as in 2004, when over 6 million acres burned up across the state. That year, Fairbanks was within a ring of fire, and a change in the wind direction did very little for relief.

Still, it’s bad enough. On the plus side, I hear the pollen count is down, but that has never bothered me anyway. The forecast says we are a week away from any chance of rain.


Lat 65 Roundup

Lightning strikes on Monday; Map credit: AICC

After a lull in lightning strikes to start the season, the skies have been very luminous of late. Strikes across the state have been widespread since the weekend. Over 5600 strikes on Monday, with over 15,000 strikes for the three days of Sunday-Tuesday.

A wildfire started near the Dalton Highway and the Arctic Circle, which closed a popular campground there.

So far, over 1 million acres have burned in Alaska this season, which is the earliest we have crossed that threshold in many decades. At least since 1969, Alaska has not seen 1 million acres burn by this date. Records were a bit sketchier back then, as recording acres burned in rural Alaska is a bit challenging.

Fairbanks hit 80F for the first time this season on the Solstice.

As of Monday, Alaska had seen 289 wildfires this season.

Smoke rolling in on Wednesday night


Fairbanks Almanac

Map credit: NOAA/NWS

The recent warm up and noticeable increase in daylight has triggered today’s post.

The forecast high for Fairbanks today is 30F. The average high for the day is 1F, and the record high is 39F.

While the forecast low is 18F, with an average low of -17F and a record low of -60F.

The length of day is now just over 6 hours, and we are gaining 6-1/2 minutes a day at this time. Visible daylight is at 8-1/4 hours.


Enjoy your Polar Vortex

Honestly…

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the Lower 48 insists on stealing our polar air. Send it back home when the novelty has worn off.

-Alaska


Turbulence in Review

December in Review

We saw some oddities in our weather, not just in December, but throughout 2021.

On Christmas Day, Fairbanks was considerably warmer than Ketchikan far down the coast, as Ketchikan celebrated their coldest December 25th on record.

A day later, Kodiak hit 67F, which is the warmest temperature ever recorded, anywhere in Alaska, in the month of December. That broke Kodiak’s record high for the day by 9F. It was warmer in Kodiak than Los Angeles or Seattle. Cold Bay also destroyed their old record high on the same day, with a temperature of 62F. The previous record high for the day was 44F!

Alaska 2021 Review

The North Slope saw extended thunderstorms, and Fairbanks set an all time record for precipitation. Yakutat, Alaska’s surfing hot spot, saw 67F in mid-April, and a day later, Klawock experienced the earliest 75F ever in the State.

Nome saw six blizzards over a three week period, Buckland saw spring flooding, and the Noatak experienced extreme summer rain.

Anchorage had an early heavy snow, King Salmon had a chilly autumn, and our capital experienced their coldest December in almost 40 years.

Maps by: ACCAP/UAF; Data by: NOAA/NCEI/NWS


We have snow

We had a very wet December

I was debating taking last week off completely from the blog, then the storm hit, and my days were filled with shoveling and plowing.

Officially, the ten day storm brought 30.2 inches of snow. You’re thinking: “Piece of cake”. It probably would have been if we didn’t have 1-1/2″ of freezing rain in the middle of the 2-1/2 feet of snow. It was simply a mess out there.

In the end, I had 52″ of snow fall at the cabin in the month of December. That’s good for second place in all recorded Decembers, and the fourth ever snowiest month. Total precipitation rivaled August 1967, when Fairbanks had its historic flood.

Not to be left out, Denali National Park HQ recorded 78″ of snow in December, breaking the monthly record.

We do not have any snow in the coming week’s forecast, which I’m beyond thrilled about. We have some digging out to do, but we seem to be heading back to more normal weather. Sunday morning saw temps at -40F/C. Thank goodness.

There may be a car under there