December 2012 Statewide Summary

Temperature

Much like November, colder than normal temperatures were the norm for Alaska, with all twenty first-order stations reporting temperatures below the expected values. Despite these low temperatures, there were two warmer periods, one stretching from about the 8th to about the 14th, and the second from the 27th to the end of the month, with temperatures far exceeding the normal value. The stations with the largest negative deviation in temperature were Fairbanks (-13.2°F), Gulkana (-12.8°F), Delta Junction (-9.9°F), and Bettles (-9.0°F). Annette and Barrow were the closest stations to normal with a deviation of -1.7°F, and Cold By followed closely with -1.8°F.

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

14.6

19.0

-4.4

Annette

35.4

37.1

-1.7

Barrow

-9.5

-7.8

-1.7

Bethel

4.1

10.4

-6.3

Bettles

-14.7

-5.7

-9.0

Cold Bay

29.3

31.1

-1.8

Delta Junction

-7.8

2.1

-9.9

Fairbanks

-17.3

-4.1

-13.2

Gulkana

-12.4

0.4

-12.8

Homer

23.3

27.1

-3.8

Juneau

23.5

29.9

-6.4

King Salmon

12.4

18.6

-6.2

Kodiak

28.8

31.2

-2.4

Kotzebue

-3.2

2.3

-5.5

McGrath

-11.9

-3.2

-8.7

Nome

3.3

9.5

-6.2

St. Paul Island

26.5

28.9

-2.4

Talkeetna

12.2

16.0

-3.8

Valdez

21.6

26.0

-4.4

Yakutat

25.0

29.6

-4.6

 

 

Daily temperature ranges and normals, as well as the deviation from the normal temperature for the mean of the twenty first order stations for December 2012.

 

December's temperature record events tracked along with the general temperature trend, with a new high in Kodiak on the 12th during the first warm up. This was trailed by a string of low temperature events during the protracted cold snap that followed. Finally, high record events returned at the end of the month to shadow the intense warm up. Kodiak and McGrath each had both one high and low event during the month.

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

12/12/12

Kodiak

High Temperature

48

47

1967

12/15/12

Bettles

Low Temperature

50

50

1980

12/15/12

St. Paul

Low Temperature

4

5

1965

12/16/12

McGrath

Low Temperature

-49

-48

1977

12/22/12

Tok

Low Temperature

-57

-57

1961

12/24/12

St. Paul

Low Temperature

10

10

1976

12/24/12

Valdez

Low Temperature

2

 

 

12/25/12

Kodiak

Low Temperature

3

3

1957

12/30/12

Talkeetna

High Temperature

42

41

2000

12/31/12

Denali National Park Headquarters

High Temperature

43

41

1941

12/31/12

McGrath

High Temperature

45

41

1973

 

 

Precipitation

Precipitation for December was low for much of the State, with only five stations reporting higher than normal values. These stations are, in declining order: Fairbanks (186%), King Salmon (167%), Anchorage (165%), Homer (150%), and McGrath (119%). At the low end were Kotzebue with 29% of normal, Gulkana (32%), Delta Junction (37%), and Valdez (42%). Most of the total precipitation for the month fell between the 8th and 13th of December due to an intense cyclonic system that moved into Alaska. (Note that these statistics represent nineteen of the first order stations; Bettles is not included this month due to missing data.)

 

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

1.83

1.11

0.72

65%

165%

Annette

8.21

10.72

-2.51

-23%

77%

Barrow

0.07

0.14

-0.07

-50%

50%

Bethel

1.10

1.12

-0.02

-2%

98%

Cold Bay

3.67

4.46

-0.79

-18%

82%

Delta Junction

0.14

0.38

-0.24

-63%

37%

Fairbanks

1.19

0.64

0.55

86%

186%

Gulkana

0.25

0.78

-0.53

-68%

32%

Homer

4.61

3.08

1.53

50%

150%

Juneau

4.92

5.84

-0.92

-16%

84%

King Salmon

2.05

1.23

0.82

67%

167%

Kodiak

5.64

8.73

-3.09

-35%

65%

Kotzebue

0.22

0.76

-0.54

-71%

29%

McGrath

1.54

1.29

0.25

19%

119%

Nome

0.62

1.08

-0.46

-43%

57%

St. Paul Island

1.47

2.25

-0.78

-35%

65%

Talkeetna

1.05

1.93

-0.88

-46%

54%

Valdez

3.50

8.24

-4.74

-58%

42%

Yakutat

8.26

16.28

-8.02

-49%

51%

 

 

Daily mean precipitation deviation from the normal for the twenty first order stations for December 2012.

 

Snowfall for December was close to normal for the state, with the average just 1% above normal, and only five stations reporting lower than normal amounts. These stations were Kotzebue with 22% of the expected value, Valdez (59%), Kodiak (62%), King Salmon (74%), and St. Paul Island (79%). Juneau had much more snow than expected, with 173%, with Fairbanks (153%) and Annette (141%) being the other three stations reporting considerably more snow than normal.

 

Station

Snowfall

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

18.20

16.70

1.50

9%

109%

Annette

11.40

8.10

3.30

41%

141%

Barrow

4.00

3.50

0.50

14%

114%

Bethel

11.50

11.40

0.10

1%

101%

Cold Bay

13.40

12.60

0.80

6%

106%

Fairbanks

18.50

12.10

6.40

53%

153%

Juneau

27.00

15.60

11.40

73%

173%

King Salmon

7.00

9.50

-2.50

-26%

74%

Kodiak

8.50

13.80

-5.30

-38%

62%

Kotzebue

2.50

11.50

-9.00

-78%

22%

McGrath

21.00

20.20

0.80

4%

104%

Nome

14.70

14.50

0.20

1%

101%

St. Paul Island

9.50

12.10

-2.60

-21%

79%

Valdez

42.20

71.90

-29.70

-41%

59%

Yakutat

27.20

23.20

4.00

17%

117%

 

Numerous precipitation and snowfall records were set, a number of them linked together. Also, many in occurred in connection with the above-mentioned strong cyclonic activity from the 9th to the 13th.

 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

12/09/12

Valdez

Snowfall

13.80

8.80

2008

12/11/12

Bethel

Snowfall

4.80

1.90

1994

12/11/12

UAF College Observatory

Snowfall

2.00

1.70

1972

12/11/12

UAF College Observatory

Precipitation

0.10

0.08

1981

12/12/12

UAF College Observatory

Snowfall

4.10

3.00

1948

12/12/12

Fairbanks

Snowfall

9.50

5.70

1972

12/12/12

Anchorage

Snowfall

8.60

6.80

2011

12/12/12

King Salmon

Precipitation

0.35

0.34

1971

12/12/12

Fairbanks

Precipitation

0.72

0.17

1972

12/12/12

Anchorage

Precipitation

0.95

0.53

2011

12/12/12

UAF College Observatory

Precipitation

0.03

0.02

1991

12/13/12

UAF College Observatory

Snowfall

7.80

5.50

1972

12/13/12

UAF College Observatory

Precipitation

7.80

5.50

1972

12/16/12

St. Paul

Snowfall

3.30

2.20

2004

12/30/12

Haines Airport

Precipitation

0.87

0.78

2000

12/30/12

Juneau

Precipitation

0.81

0.77

1989

 

 

Newsworthy Events

The biggest news of the month was a winter storm that struck at the early part of the month around Juneau, Hoonah, Sitka, Petersburg, and Angoon. Due to the wind and snowfall from the storm the Basin Road Trestle Bridge's reopening was delayed, owing to the adverse effects on construction. The colder than normal temperatures also caused a water main to break on the Old Seward Highway closing down a lane on the 7th.

 

The below normal precipitation in November and for much of the month of December caused Ketchikan Public Utilities to switch to limited diesel generation due to a reduced quantity of water in the reservoir. The record snowfall in Fairbanks on the 12th caused schools to close for the 13th.

 

This infrared satellite image from the National Weather Service shows strong winter systems affecting the Gulf of Alaska on Monday, December 31, 2012. This storm broke the drilling rig Kulluk free from the tow vessels and grounded her on Sitkalidak Island, south of Kodiak Island.

 

Strong storms at the end of the month in the Gulf of Alaska broke the drill rig Kulluk free of the tow ship Aiviq, first on the 27th. On the 31st, the Aiviq and another towing vessels reattached lines to the rig, but the high winds and waves broke both lines while the ships tried to ride out the storm. Finally later on New Years Eve the Kulluk grounded on the island of Sitkalidak, and the event made the national news. The storm generated high wind warning in Anchorage and avalanche warnings in the mountainous areas of Southcentral.

 

This information consists of preliminary climatological data compiled by the Alaska Climate Research Center, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks. This summary is based on the twenty first order stations in Alaska operated by the National Weather Service. Extreme events of other stations are also mentioned. It should be noted that the new climate normals for the time period of 1981-2010 are applied for the calculations of the deviations, and they can be slightly different from the old normals (1971-2000), which were in use up until end of July 2011.

 

 

This information consists of preliminary climatological data compiled by the Alaska Climate Research Center, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks. This summary is based on the 20 first order stations in Alaska operated by the National Weather Service. Extreme events of other stations are also mentioned. It should be noted that the new climate normals for the time period of 1981-2010 are applied for the calculations of the deviations, and they can be slightly different from the old normals (1971-2000), which were in use up until end of July 2011.