Tag Archives: NOAA

Falling short of 90

Map credit: NOAA/ACCAP

Even though Alaska had a warm and very dry start to summer, the state has not seen 90F yet. although some recording stations have hit 89F. A few northern locations in the Yukon and Northwest Territories broke the 90 degree mark, but none in Alaska.


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

Warm Week Ahead

Map and info credit: NOAA

That is, at least for Alaska.

On Sunday morning, it was -22F at the cabin, and just a few days before, it was at -31 when I went to work. The temperature has been rising throughout the day, and it looks to be a warm week for us, with temps forecast at above freezing.

As often happens, when temps rise in Alaska during the winter months, temps can cool a bit down in the Lower 48. Although, that’s not to say they will be seeing too many -31F’s.


Wet Alaska

Graphic credit: ACCAP, UAF; Data credit: NOAA, NCEI

Over the past five decades, Alaska has seen a substantial increase in precipitation. The Southeast & South-Central part of the state has seen only single digit increases, which is probably a good thing considering much of that area is a rain forest.

Interior Alaska has seen a 12% increase in precipitation. I can’t say I’m surprised by that, as we definitely seem to be getting more snow during the winter. With a warming trend, we were bound to see more snowfall.

Still, it’s intriguing to see the actual numbers.


Bering Ice

Graphic credit: ACCAP, UAF, NOAA

Bering Sea ice is at its highest level this late in the season since 2013. Which is good news for Alaska in 2022. Not only does the extended sea ice help out our wildlife, but it offers protection for communities like Nome from fierce winter storms.


On the Hunt for The Bear

The USRC Bear in the ice; Location and date unknown

For over two decades, NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard have been looking for the final resting place of the Revenue Cutter Bear. One of the most storied ships in USCG history, the Bear was launched in 1874, and would see service for the next nine decades.

The historic vessel entered Coast Guard service as a revenue cutter in 1885, spending much of its time working the 20,000 mile Alaska coastline. The Bear was a rescue ship and medical ship; served as transportation for governors, teachers, construction material, mail and reindeer; hunted for poachers, smugglers and illegal traders; and she served as census taker and floating courthouse during her time in Alaskan waters.

The Bear’s masthead

She assisted the 1906 relief efforts after the San Francisco earthquake, as well as assisting Robert Byrd on his Second and Third Antarctic Expeditions. In 1930, the Bear starred in the film version of Jack London’s The Sea Wolf. In 1939, she joined the US Navy on the United States Antarctic Service Expedition. When the United States entered WWII, the Bear returned to Arctic waters joining the Northeast Atlantic Greenland Patrol.

With her service in WWII, the Bear became the oldest Navy ship to be deployed outside the Continental United States. She was also one of the last ships originally equipped with sails to serve in a theater of war. The Bear was one of a select few Navy ships to have served in the Spanish-American War, as well as both World Wars.

The Bear’s final moments, with the Irving Birch looking on

In 1963, while being towed from Nova Scotia to Philadelphia, one of her masts collapsed in a storm, and the venerable Bear went down to the sea bottom.

In 2019, researchers from NOAA caught a break. Two targets were discovered, and one showed major promise. After two years of comparing photos of the wreck at the bottom of the ocean, and photos of the Bear in dry dock and at port, researchers have stated that they are “reasonably certain” that the wreckage is the Bear.

The wreck on the left, with the Bear in dry dock, circa 1924, on the right; Photo credit: NOAA


Trending Brown

Graph credit: ACCAP, UAF, NOAA, NWS

Between 1930 and 2015, Fairbanks had a total of five Halloweens with less than an inch of snow on the ground. Counting this year, we have had five years since 2015 with less than an inch of snow on the ground. Currently, we have a dusting, and with 40F degrees forecast for Halloween Weekend, the odds are in favor of a brown Halloween for 2021.


Welcome to the Freeze

Graph and data credit: ACCAP, UAF, NOAA

Starting on Tuesday, the official average daily high temperature for Fairbanks dropped below the freezing mark. It does not rise above 32F until March 30.


Right Whales in rare Alaska sighting

The population of right whales in Alaska waters is estimated to be around 30. The animals were heavily hunted for decades, and even picked up their name because they were the “right” whale to hunt: Right whales are slow moving and float when killed.

The eastern population of North Pacific Right Whales call Alaska home, but they are rarely seen. In August, however, two groups of two whales each were spotted in the waters around Kodiak. Of the four whales, two were known to researchers, but two were previously unknown. Four right whales in a month may not seem impressive, but those whales amount to over 10% of the entire population.

Video courtesy of NOAA


Orca Rising

A live killer whale is stranded on shore rocks in the vicinity of Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. Credit: Captain Chance Strickland and Crew of M/V Steadfast

The story of the beached orca near Prince of Wales Island in Alaska caught the attention of many of you. The killer whale, now known to be T146D, was found by locals recently, trapped out of water on some rocks.

Keeping T146D wet

The locals kept it wet, first by pouring water from buckets on the orca, then by spraying water from a yacht that showed up to help out. Eventually, NOAA fisheries experts came along to keep watch over the stranded orca.

A rather unhappy orca

T146D ended up getting some cuts and abrasions from the rocks, but after at least 6 hours of being stranded, the tide came in, and the orca was able to free itself.

T146D is a Biggs Orca, which has a population of approximately 300, and they ply the waters off western North America. T146D is thought to be a female, but that is an educated guess. The killer whale is known to be 13 years old.

There was some speculation early on, that the orca was caught off guard due to the 8.2 earthquake recently off the coast of Alaska. NOAA has disputed that, saying there is absolutely no evidence of the earthquake having anything to do with the stranding. More than likely, the orca was hunting harbor seals and came too close to the rocks. There have been five live-strandings of Biggs Orcas in the past 20 years. All survived the ordeal and rejoined their pod, according to NOAA. The population of Biggs Orcas are known to hunt harbor seals in shallow waters.