Across the state, Alaskan cities and villages saw their warmest year ever recorded. Utqiagvik, Kotzebue, Fairbanks, Anchorage, Bethel, Kodiak and Cold Bay, all saw record warmth in 2019 as a whole. For the first time since recording began, Fairbanks had an average temperature above freezing.
Juneau had a record number of days of 70F or higher, which was enough to give the capital city their third warmest year.
Across the state we set 326 new record highs, as opposed to just 12 record lows.
Graph credit: NOAA, ACCAP, @AlaskaWx
Statewide, Alaska had 87% of its days above normal, with only 13% of days with below normal temps. Normal is based on 1981-2010 averages.
The tail end of December did see a dip in temps, at least in the Interior and northern regions. Sea ice has finally started to extend, although the amount is still lower than what we had at this point in 2019.
The temperature at the Anchorage International Airport fell to -10F on Sunday morning. That is the first time Anchorage has seen minus ten in 3 years.
November was a warm month across the State of Alaska. With the lack of sea ice, Utqiagvik was a staggering 16.1 degrees above normal for the month. By comparison, Fairbanks was a modest 10.6 degrees above normal for November.
Graph credit: ACCAP
Sea ice in the Chukchi Sea was at the lowest level ever recorded for November. In fact, sea ice was at such a low level, that it was below the daily average levels for entire summers prior to 2001.
November highlights: Data credit: NOAA; Graphic credit: @AlaskaWx
Some highlights for the month statewide:
The final week of the month hit the village of Bettles, with a record 3-day snowfall of 28.3″. That same storm also set the 2-day record.
Anchorage, Cold Bay and Kodiak all saw their warmest November on record, while Utqiagvik experienced its second warmest.
On Thanksgiving morning the temperature in Fairbanks was 33F, which is only the seventh time in 116 years that Fairbanks saw above freezing temperatures on that day.
Nome had no snow on the ground during November, yet Chulitna received 78.5″!
Kotzebue continues its streak of above average temperatures for the 27th consecutive month.
Data from NOAA; Collected and graphed by Rick Thoman
Fairbanks could almost call the Winter of 2018-19 as the Winter that Wasn’t. Since September 1st, we have seen 80 days that have been at least 10F degrees warmer than normal. Fairbanks saw 13 days that were 10F degrees or more colder than normal.
For those that like their math: 76% of the days since September 1, have had above normal temperatures in Fairbanks.
By the way, we saw rain yesterday. Rain in March in Fairbanks, Alaska, is not the norm.
To follow Rick Thoman, the Wizard of Climate, check out his twitter-verse: @AlaskaWx
Alaska: 2018 Seismicity; Color coded by depth, Notable events labeled
The Alaska Earthquake Center at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks, has done their annual year in review for 2018. We set a record for earthquakes within the state, with over 55,000 events during 2018. That blows past the previous record of 42,989 set in 2017. The next highest number occurred in 2014 with 40,686 quakes. We had so many earthquakes in 2018 that AEC is still counting to get a specific number.
It needs to be noted, that much of the increase in numbers is due to advancing detection techniques, as well as additional recording stations. The purpose of this post, is not to imply that Alaska is about to break off from the Yukon, but to show how seismically active Alaska is.
The two largest earthquakes have set off thousands of aftershocks. The 7.9 magnitude quake in the Gulf of Alaska was the largest, followed by the now rated 7.1 near Anchorage in November.
We also had a couple of “swarms” in the northern part of the state, in the Brooks Range & on the North Slope, that lasted for months, and accounted for over 17,000 events.
The surprise earthquake of the year, happened near Kaktovik, on Alaska’s north coast. The 6.4 mainshock and 6.0 aftershock, were by far the largest ever recorded north of the Brooks Range.
On Saturday, March 9, a sudden jolt went through the cabin as I worked about the place, while listening to Minnesota hockey swarm the Michigan Wolverines. Sure enough, a 3.7 magnitude quake had occurred roughly 15-20 miles from the cabin.
A very special thanks to the Alaska Earthquake Center for the above graph and earthquake information.
Interior Alaskans felt the Earth move a bit on Tuesday morning. It wasn’t a big earthquake, at only magnitude 4.6, but it was widely felt at 7:18am. It’s note worthy, mainly because it has been a couple of years since I felt one pass through.
On Sunday morning, Kaktovik, which is located on the Beaufort Sea coast, woke up to a 6.4 magnitude quake. It was the largest earthquake ever recorded on Alaska’s North Slope.
Earthquakes in Alaska are far from unusual. An earthquake is detected once every 15 minutes, on average, within the state. In 2014, Alaska set a record with over 40,000 shakes. Over the past five years, the Alaska Earthquake Center has reported over 150,000 earthquakes. Of those, 31 had a magnitude over 6.0. and four went over 7.0. Seventy-five percent of all earthquakes over 5.0 within the United States happen in Alaska.
The 7.9 magnitude quake, that hit us in 2002 when the Denali Fault ruptured, is the largest I have experience. The 1964 Good Friday Earthquake was a magnitude 9.2, and it is still the second largest earthquake ever recorded anywhere on the globe.
The global graph shows temperatures around the world as they happened on Thursday and compare them against average. Look at that bright red glow across the NW Territories, The Yukon and Northern Alaska.
We’re back to the heat here in Alaska. It’s been over a week of lighting a fire in the wood stove before I go to bed, and letting it go out over night. Then the next night, starting a fire again, and repeating the process. The cold snap on the eastern seaboard of the United States is a long ways from Interior Alaska.
Anchorage has been forced to give up the Iditarod Dog Sled Race to Fairbanks, due to absolutely no snow on the southern route to Nome. No doubt Anchorage is seething at this, but race officials could not repeat the disaster of 2014.
The Open North American Sled Dog Race had to reroute out of downtown Fairbanks due to the Noyes Slough ice being unsafe.
Now, a Plan C is being considered for the Iditarod, because the Chena River ice is quickly becoming thin in this heat wave. The race was to be run from the Chena River in Fairbanks to the Tanana River and then onward to Nome, but now an overland route to the Tanana is being considered.
I received a text today from New York State, asking about frozen pipes and how deep water lines run in Fairbanks to avoid the frost line. As I respond from Interior Alaska, I’m dressed in tennis shoes and a light fleece jacket, and I couldn’t help but notice that I’m standing in the open water of a puddle in a parking lot.
If it wasn’t for the two weeks of -40 & -50, the tripod down in Nenana would be toppling in record time.