Tag Archives: weather

Smoke moving in

Western Alaska wildfires; Image credit: UAF/GINA

Most of the wildfires burning in Alaska right now are near the coast, but smoke from those fires have finally made its way into Interior Alaska. The sun was a bright orange pumpkin on Sunday morning.

The largest wildfire right now is the East Fork Fire near the community of St Marys. At 122,000 acres burned, it is the largest tundra fire since 2007, and the second largest in the past 40 years. St Marys is being evacuated, and the fire is now threatening other communities. The fire was started by lightning.

BLM/AFS Situational Report; Graphic credit: BLM/AFS

According to the BLM and Alaska Fire Service, Alaska has seen 314,057 acres burned so far this fire season. That is particularly note worthy, since it is already more than the entire season in 2020 and 2021.

As for the Interior, Fairbanks has now gone 25 days without measurable rainfall. It is a rare summer dry streak, as we have only seen two years with more: 1947 (28 days) and 1957 (26 days).


High water on the Copper

Flooding along Alaska’s famed Copper River has been pretty severe this spring. The heavy snows have begun to melt, and the Copper, like many other rivers throughout the state, are at flood stage.

The video above shows a home floating down the Copper River after the bank eroded and gave way. As many as six other homes are in danger of being swept downstream.


A snowy Denali National Park

The view across Denali National Park at the end of May, 2022

In the 99 years of record keeping within Denali National Park, the winter of 2021-22 was the record setter. 176 inches of snow fell at park headquarters this past winter, breaking the 174″ of 1970-71.

As of May 15, there were still 33″ of snow on the ground at the park’s headquarters, far above average for this late in the season.

It’s been a tough winter for wildlife, particularly moose, who have had to fight the deep drifts. Both moose and bears have been traveling on the park road, so traffic has been limited past Sable Pass. Bicyclists normally can travel up & down the park road, but with the stressed wildlife, that will remain limited until the snow melts.

The shuttle bus will only be traveling as far as Pretty Rocks, due to the road collapse from the melting ice formation.

The park’s visitor center will be open for the first time since 2019, and the park’s sled dog kennel will also be open for tours. 2022 is the 100th anniversary for the Denali Park Sled Dog Kennel.


Looking for 60

So far, the month of May, has been a bit chilly, with temps running around 15F degrees below average. We have not hit 60F yet, and people are talking.

The long term average for the first 60 degree day in Fairbanks is May 2. The two latest first 60F degree days on record are May 24, 1935 and May 25, 1964.

2022 may give us our first 60 on Thursday or Friday.

In other news: Fairbanks began its 73 day period of 24 hours of daylight and civil twilight yesterday.


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.


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.


Starting to get chilly

The Atigun River on a much warmer day

The Atigun River HADS station recorded the State’s first -50F reading of the season on Sunday morning. The weather station is located just north of Atigun Pass, where the Dalton Highway crosses the Atigun River.

Monday morning will bring temperatures close to -40 to Fairbanks. The last time Fairbanks saw -40 in November was in 2011.

Graphic credit: NWS-Fairbanks

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.


Tire Changeover

Getting serious in Wrangell-St Elias; Photo credit: NPS

It’s tire changeover time in the northern half of Alaska. Studded tires can now be put on the vehicles, as of September 16th. Remember, if you procrastinate, the lines at the tire shop only get longer.

Think it’s too early to put on the set of Blizzaks?

Hatcher Pass, Alaska; Photo credit: Alaska State Parks

This is an image from Hatcher Pass on Thursday, which is in the southern half of the state, and must remain stud-free until October 1.


“Weather Station in Alaska”

Oil on canvas, circa 1949 by Dale Nichols

Nichols was mainly known for painting the American Midwest, but he also did several with scenes from Alaska. Nichols, who traveled extensively during his lifetime, passed away at the age of 91 in 1995.