Category Archives: weather

Six months apart

July 1952 and January 1953 – Downtown Fairbanks, Alaska


We call this mild:

Graphic credit: NWS – Fairbanks

The forecast calls for another week of mild temperatures across Alaska’s Interior.


Chilly Chicken

Graphic credit: National Weather Service – Fairbanks

A deep freeze swept over much of Interior Alaska this week. Not only was Chicken the cold spot in the state with a low of -57F, their high ended up being only -50F. They hold the spot as the first location in Alaska to officially see a high of minus fifty or colder this season.

By comparison, the thermometer outside the cabin read a balmy -33F Monday morning.


Cooling off a bit:


Fairbanks Weather Almanac

Fairbanks had 5″ of snow in October, which is trending downward for the month. Between 1981 and 2010, October saw an average of more than 10″. Fairbanks has not seen an October with significantly above average snowfall in 18 years. Not that I’m complaining about that statistic. I’m in the “delay the snowfall for as long as possible” camp.

Sunday morning saw our first below zero temp of the season. It was -10F at the cabin. That is two days later than the average first dip into the negatives.

The Tanana River is at flood stage near Fairbanks due to an ice dam. We often think of ice dams causing trouble at break up, but they can cause havoc in the autumn too.

The length of day on Halloween in Fairbanks was 7 hours and 58 minutes. All Saints Day will be 6 minutes and 45 seconds shorter.

The record low on Halloween is -30F. The record high for the day is 46F. The average is +5 and +20 respectively. 2022 was slightly cooler than average.

Graphics credit: ACCAP/@AlaskaWX and NOAA


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.