Tag Archives: NWS

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.


The Return of the Lights

Graphic credit: NWS/NOAA

As we slide into the Dark Abyss that is winter, there is one phenomenon that makes up for our shortened days: The Northern Lights.

With a geomagnetic storm in progress, and a forecast of clear skies, the first aurora of the season may be visible over the cabin in the next few days.


Frozen Chicken

Graphic credit: NWS-Fairbanks

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

Rising waters

The community of Manley Hot Springs

No one was surprised to hear the National Weather Service issuing flood watches and warnings throughout Alaska’s Interior this past weekend. With a Top Ten Snowfall this past winter, we have been readying for the coming melt.

Manley Hot Springs is one of the first communities to come under water. An ice dam on the Tanana River has caused water to back up into Manley. As of Sunday morning, as many as 75 residents in the lower areas of the town had been displaced, many of which were seeking shelter in the Manley Hot Springs Lodge.

Reports have ice starting to move on the Tanana, which would alleviate the flooding.

Manley under water from the Tanana River

A Flood Watch had been issued for Eagle on the Yukon River, as well as Hughes on the Koyukuk. Ice now appears to be moving on both rivers and those two watches have been cancelled as of Sunday afternoon.

Temperatures for the coming week are going to dip down into the low to mid 40’s F for highs, with a (relatively) rare chance of May snow for Fairbanks. Even though we are all ready for summer and its warmer temps, a slow melt would be a good thing.


Cabin Fever

Alaska postcard, circa 1986; Photo by Jeff Brown

So. We have a little snow on the ground in Interior Alaska. Officially, Fairbanks has seen 91.9″. It’s the most snowfall we have seen since the winter of 1992-93. Some surrounding areas have seen up to 223% of normal.

A representative for the university said the other day: “The Tanana Valley is going to have an eventful break-up.”

Indeed.

Graphic credit: NOAA/NWS-Fairbanks

More snow is forecast throughout Wednesday and into Thursday morning.


Hunga Tonga Eruption

An undersea volcano erupted Saturday near the island of Tonga. The satellite imagery above is pretty intense, and the ash plume reached 20km above the earth.

Tsunami alerts were put out almost immediately, and the island of Tongatapu had waves flooding into the capital.

Courtesy of NWS/NOAA

The tsunami reached Alaska’s southern coast this morning, with King Cove recording the highest waves at 3.3 feet.

Air pressure change

That wasn’t the only wave to hit Alaska from the eruption. The shock wave of the event caused a drastic air pressure change over the state as well.

Courtesy of the NWS and NOAA

Can you hear a volcano erupt from almost 6000 miles away? It turns out that you can. Many people, who were up between 3:30-4:00 am on Saturday reported hearing a sonic boom. It’s telling that many Alaskans initially reported being awaken by a large boom, and most of them assumed it was a “moose on the porch”. Various infrasound recorders placed around the state by Alaska Volcano Observatory confirmed that the sound heard was the volcanic pressure wave, not a moose.

I find that absolutely fascinating.

A second eruption pressure wave traveled over Anchorage 19.3 hours after the first wave, traveling in the opposite direction.

As of this writing, details of the damage remained sketchy at best. It is known that waves entered Tonga’s capital, and that a thick layer of volcanic ash was dumped on the island. No deaths have been reported at this time, and it is not known how many islands have seen damage from tsunamis or ash fall. Tonga’s internet service, much like Alaska, is served via undersea cables. It is thought that those cables were damaged in the eruption.

New Zealand has sent military aircraft to Tonga to assess the damage.


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


Quick Turnaround

Graph credit: NWS-Fairbanks

The low was -37F in Fairbanks on Saturday morning. By 10am on Monday, the temperature had risen to +25F. An increase of 62 degrees. Consider: It would be the same swing as going from 32F to 94F.

The 25F degrees was the warmest we have been since November 7.

It felt pretty nice.