December 2014 Statewide Summary

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

December 2014

 

Temperature

The warm trend from November continued into December 2014 with temperatures that were decidedly above normal across the state, with all 19 of the First Order Stations reporting positive deviations. Calculating the mean daily temperatures of the First Order Stations (see Figure), all 31 days of the month were above the 30-year normal. The peak deviation, an extreme 20.1°F, occurred on the 30th of the month. The monthly mean temperature of all First Order Stations was 21.8°F, a significant 7.5°F above the normal of 14.3°F. This is 6.9°F above the December of 2013 mean of 14.9°F. McGrath held the greatest positive deviation from normal for December at a highly substantial 13.9°F above its long-term mean of -3.2°F. Stations following King Salmon with positive deviations equal to or exceeding 10°F were: King Salmon (13.0°F), Fairbanks (12.1°F), Delta Junction (10.7°F) and Talkeetna (10.2°F).

The warmest temperature for the First Order Stations was 55°F reported at Annette on the 7th. Annette also reported the highest mean temperature for the month at 41.7°F. The coldest temperature was -29°F at Bettles on the 27th. Barrow reported the lowest December mean temperature at -6.8°F.

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

26.5

19.0

7.5

Annette

41.7

37.1

4.6

Barrow

-6.8

-7.8

1.0

Bethel

19.4

10.4

9.0

Bettles

4.1

-5.7

9.8

Cold Bay

33.6

31.1

2.5

Delta Junction

12.8

2.1

10.7

Fairbanks

8.0

-4.1

12.1

Gulkana

7.8

0.4

7.4

Homer

37.0

27.1

9.9

Juneau

33.4

29.9

3.5

King Salmon

31.6

18.6

13.0

Kodiak

38.2

31.2

7.0

Kotzebue

7.8

2.3

5.5

McGrath

10.7

-3.2

13.9

Nome

15.6

9.5

6.1

St. Paul Island

33.6

28.9

4.7

Talkeetna

26.3

16.0

10.3

Yakutat

33.7

29.6

4.1

 

 

 

 

Description: First Order Temperature

Daily mean temperature deviation from the normal temperature for the mean of the first order stations for December 2014.

As in November, a fair number of record temperature events were reported for December, and like November, all were new record highs, with no new lows noted. They were set throughout the month. King Salmon, Homer and Craig all had a total of four new records set or tied. Fairbanks had the second warmest December in 111 years of records.

 

 

Temperature Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

12/01/14

Cold Bay

High Temperature

45

45

2002

12/01/14

St. Paul

High Temperature

42

41

2002

12/07/14

Annette

High Temperature

55

51

2002

12/07/14

Homer

High Temperature

49

49

1978

12/07/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

47

45

2013

12/07/14

Kodiak

High Temperature

47

46

1978

12/07/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

46

46

1982

12/08/14

Craig

High Temperature

54

52

2002

12/08/14

Homer

High Temperature

52

49

1986

12/08/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

48

47

1937

12/08/14

Kodiak

High Temperature

46

46

1978

12/14/14

Craig

High Temperature

52

50

2013

12/14/14

Port Alexander

High Temperature

48

48

1962

12/14/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

46

46

1982

12/15/14

Auke Bay

High Temperature

46

44

2013

12/15/14

Craig

High Temperature

52

51

2002

12/15/14

Juneau

High Temperature

46

46

2005

12/15/14

Petersburg

High Temperature

52

52

1958

12/15/14

Port Alexander

High Temperature

49

49

1962

12/15/14

Talkeetna

High Temperature

40

39

2005

12/16/14

Craig

High Temperature

52

50

2005

12/20/14

Yakutat

High Temperature

45

45

1985

12/27/14

St. Paul

High Temperature

41

41

1984

12/29/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

48

45

1967

12/30/14

Delta Junction

High Temperature

44

44

1967

12/30/14

Homer

High Temperature

48

47

1941

12/30/14

King Salmon

High Temperature

49

43

2009

12/31/14

Homer

High Temperature

48

48

1941

12/31/14

Kotzebue

High Temperature

35

32

1987

12/31/14

Talkeetna

High Temperature

40

40

2001

 

 

Precipitation

December was just a bit a drier than normal, with the overall precipitation calculated as 2% below normal; this calculation was based on the mean of the deviations in percentage of the First Order Stations. Ten of the First Order Stations and 21 days of the month reported below normal values. This is in contrast to the wet December in 2013 that had 46% more precipitation than normal. The greatest daily deviation of 214% occurred on the 2nd, when a storm passed over much of Alaska. On a monthly basis, King Salmon had the greatest positive deviation from normal, with a total of 1.96", or 59% above the expected amount of 1.23". Other stations with precipitation greater than 140% of normal were: Kodiak (158%), Fairbanks (145%), Barrow (143%) and Bethel (142%). Leading the stations with lower than normal precipitation totals was Delta Junction with just 18% of normal. Other stations with less than a 60% of their normal precipitation were: Kotzebue (46%), Nome (50%), and Juneau (56%).

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

0.72

1.11

-0.39

-35%

65%

Annette

12.96

10.72

2.24

21%

121%

Barrow

0.20

0.14

0.06

43%

143%

Bethel

1.59

1.12

0.47

42%

142%

Bettles

1.12

0.92

0.20

22%

122%

Cold Bay

2.92

4.46

-1.54

-35%

65%

Delta Junction

0.07

0.38

-0.31

-82%

18%

Fairbanks

0.93

0.64

0.29

45%

145%

Gulkana

0.74

0.78

-0.04

-5%

95%

Homer

2.77

3.08

-0.31

-10%

90%

Juneau

3.29

5.84

-2.55

-44%

56%

King Salmon

1.96

1.23

0.73

59%

159%

Kodiak

13.79

8.73

5.06

58%

158%

Kotzebue

0.35

0.76

-0.41

-54%

46%

McGrath

1.40

1.29

0.11

9%

109%

Nome

0.54

1.08

-0.54

-50%

50%

St. Paul Island

2.96

2.25

0.71

32%

132%

Talkeetna

1.50

1.93

-0.43

-22%

78%

Yakutat

12.05

16.28

-4.23

-26%

74%

 

 

Description: First Order Precipitation

Daily mean precipitation deviation from the normal for the first order stations for December 2014.

  

The maximum monthly precipitation total reported for the First Order Stations was 13.79" at Kodiak, and Kodiak reported the highest daily total of 3.03" on the 28th, a new daily record. The highest one-day snowfall occurred at Bettles on the 18th with 5.2Ó, also a new daily record. Bettles reported the highest monthly snowfall of 24.5", and the highest snow depth at 18Ó. 

Given the general lower than normal precipitation record in December, it's not surprising there were a very limited number of precipitation record events during the month. The table below lists the eight noted events.

 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

12/02/14

Fairbanks

Precipitation

0.39

0.29

1992

12/14/14

St. Paul

Precipitation

0.77

0.63

2008

12/25/14

Bettles

Precipitation

0.30

0.14

2007

12/25/14

Bettles

Snowfall

5.2

2.3

1987

12/28/14

Barrow

Precipitation

0.11

0.05

1903

12/28/14

Kodiak

Precipitation

3.03

1.82

1978

12/29/14

Kodiak

Precipitation

2.67

1.09

2003

12/31/14

King Salmon

Precipitation

0.47

0.28

1961

Snowfall was unsurprisingly light, with 13 of the First Order Stations that measure snowfall reporting below normal amounts. Based on the mean of the deviations from all 15 stations, the overall deviation from the normals was just 52% of the expected amount. Kodiak reported the lowest amount at 0.3", just 2% of its normal. Bettles had the highest deviation at 157% of its expected amount with a total of 24.5". Mean snow depth was about 30% under the normal. The near normal amount of precipitation, but deficiency in snowfall and resulting snow cover is, of course, due to the warmer weather, resulting in a higher percentage of the precipitation falling as rain instead of snow.

 

 

Station

Snowfall

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

7.5

16.7

-9.2

-55%

45%

Annette

0.4

8.1

-7.7

-95%

5%

Barrow

3.0

3.5

-0.5

-14%

86%

Bethel

6.5

11.4

-4.9

-43%

57%

Bettles

24.5

15.6

8.9

57%

157%

Cold Bay

2.3

12.6

-10.3

-82%

18%

Fairbanks

15.2

12.1

3.1

26%

126%

Juneau

3.5

15.6

-12.1

-78%

22%

King Salmon

7.5

9.5

-2.0

-21%

79%

Kodiak

0.3

13.8

-13.5

-98%

2%

Kotzebue

3.0

11.5

-8.5

-74%

26%

McGrath

15.7

20.2

-4.5

-22%

78%

Nome

5.1

14.5

-9.4

-65%

35%

St. Paul Island

4.3

12.1

-7.8

-64%

36%

Yakutat

1.8

23.2

-21.4

-92%

8%

 

 

Description: Figure 32

This water vapor satellite image from the National Weather Service shows a storm pushing into Alaska on December 2nd.

 

Newsworthy Events

December started off with freezing rain for the Southcentral areas and winter storm warnings for the Fairbanks region. Snowfall totaled up to 9" at Two Rivers, and hazardous driving conditions ensued. The snowfall total for Twelvemile Summit was 12.4". Dense fog advisories were issued for the Fairbanks area for the next two days. The snowfall allowed for the opening of the Birch Hill Ski area. On the 3rd the ice fishing huts at Chena Lakes were open to rent. The Eaglecrest Ski area in Juneau opened on the 6th.

Strong winds were reported across northern Alaska on the 9th, gusts up to 89 mph were reported at Howard Pass in the northeastern Brooks Range and 87 mph at Point Hope. The delayed freeze up of the Kuskokwim River is still impacting travel in the region, as well as the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race. It was not until the 25th that a safe trail was marked.

Mat-Su schools were closed on the 10th due to freezing rain. Air quality advisories were issued for the North Pole area on the 13th. Winter storm warnings were in effect for Bering Strait and Chukchi areas on the 14th for high winds and blowing snow. Turnagain Pass area was still closed to snow machiners at mid-month due to low snowpack. The upper mountain at Alyesak was re-opened on the 19th after a four-day closure. The thin ice on the Chena River in Fairbanks had resulted in two vehicles going through the ice at the 'ice bridge'. A bulldozer went though the ice on the Nenana River near Nenana on the 23rd. A light snowfall in Anchorage on the 21st resulted in a number of vehicle accidents.

High wind advisories were issued on Christmas day for the eastern Alaska Range. Snow advisory was alerted for western areas of northern Alaska the same day, then Fairbanks area the following day, with totals of about half a foot over the two days and 9.7" in Bettles. The 27th saw temperatures drop to ‑20°F for the first time of the winter in Fairbanks, third latest date to reach that temperature in more than 100 years. A large number of winter storm warnings and high wind warnings were issues across the state on the 29th. Anchorage residents enjoyed 'snow gains and ice pellets' on the 30th. Air quality alerts were in effect for North Pole and Juneau areas on the 30th. Freezing rain alerts and travel advisories were issued for the Fairbanks area for the night of the 30th and News Years Eve. The public was urged not to drive most of the Parks Highway due to ice from the freezing rain. 

This information consists of preliminary climatological data compiled by the Alaska Climate Research Center, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks. For more information on weather and climatology, contact the center at 907-474-7885 or visit the center web site at http://akclimate.org. Please report any errors to webmaster@akclimate.org. This summary is based on the 19 first order stations in Alaska operated by the National Weather Service. Extreme events of other stations are also mentioned.