March 2014 Statewide Summary

Alaska Statewide Climate Summary

March 2014

 

Temperature

March temperatures were mixed both across the state, and during the month with twelve of the 20 First Order Stations reporting positive deviations, seven recording negative deviations and Valdez matching its normal. The month started out continuing the warmer than normal temperatures from February. After the 5th temperatures turned to below normal for five days, then were mixed until staying above normal for the last nine days of the month. The peak deviation (8.4°F) occurred on the 1st. The monthly mean temperature of all 20 First Order Stations was 21.2°F, 1.2°F above the normal of 20.0°F. This is 3.4°F below the January of 2014 mean of 24.6°F, demonstrating how unusually warm January was. Barrow held the greatest positive deviation from normal for March at a significant 7.9°F above its long-term mean of -12.7°F. Stations following Barrow with positive deviations exceeding 5°F: Kotzebue (6.7°F), and Bettles (5.0°F). It is worth noting that these stations were located in the Northwestern and Arctic portions of Alaska. Stations with negative deviations from normal that were greater than -2.0°F: Annette (-2.9°), Bethel (-2.5°F), Juneau (-2.3°F), and Yakutat (-2.0°F), with all three Southeast stations reporting below normal temperatures.

The warmest temperature reported for the 20 First Order Stations was 58°F at Annette on the 31st, which sets a new daily record for Annette. The coldest temperature was ‑32°F at Barrow on the 10th, occurring during the short cold snap. Annette reported the highest mean temperature for the month at 36.8°F, while Barrow reported the coldest at -4.8°F.

 

Station

Temperature

Observed
(°F)

Normal
(°F)

Delta
(°F)

Anchorage

27.1

26.6

0.5

Annette

36.8

39.7

-2.9

Barrow

-4.8

-12.7

7.9

Bethel

12.7

15.2

-2.5

Bettles

9.4

4.4

5.0

Cold Bay

33.5

30.1

3.4

Delta Junction

16.9

14.1

2.8

Fairbanks

13.9

11.4

2.5

Gulkana

14.3

15.6

-1.3

Homer

32.3

29.9

2.4

Juneau

31.5

33.8

-2.3

King Salmon

24.4

24.1

0.3

Kodiak

33.5

32.8

0.7

Kotzebue

7.8

1.1

6.7

McGrath

13.1

11.6

1.5

Nome

12.3

10.3

2.0

St. Paul Island

24.6

24.8

-0.2

Talkeetna

24.2

24.9

-0.7

Valdez

30.3

30.3

0.0

Yakutat

30.0

32.0

-2.0

 

 

 

Description: First Order Temperature

Daily mean temperature deviation from the normal temperature for the mean of the 20 first order stations for March 2014.

 

A limited number daily temperature record events were recorded in March, all high events, scattered from the 1st to the 31st, and from Annette to Bettles. King Salmon started the month off with a high of 52°F, 3°F higher than the 1996 record. Also on the 1st, Valdez hit a high of 46°F, trumping the 42°F record also from 1996. Homer tied its 1993 record of 47°F on the 13th. The same day McGrath's high of 44°F soundly beat the 40°F record from 2005. The next day Cold Bay beat its 1984 record high of 45°F by one degree. The 19th saw Juneau tie its daily high record of 19°F, originally set in 1967. Finally, on the 31st, Annett's daily high of 58°F topped out the old 1987 record of 55°F.

 

Precipitation

 

Precipitation for March was low at just 69% of normal, with only five of the 20 First Order Stations, and eight days of the month, reporting above normal values. The greatest daily deviation of 220% occurred on the 13th, during a strong southerly storm impacting the Southcentral region on the 13th and 14th. Homer had the greatest positive deviation from normal, with a total of 1.95", or 18% above the expected amount of 1.65". Following Cold Bay with values at or above 100% of normal were: Anchorage (117%), St Paul (112%), King Salmon (109%), and Annette (101%). Leading the stations with lower than normal precipitation was Gulkana with just 3%, and McGrath with just 5% of normal. Delta Junction reported 11% of normal, while Bettles totaled just 17%.

 

Station

Precipitation

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

0.70

0.60

0.10

17%

117%

Annette

8.14

8.05

0.09

1%

101%

Barrow

0.05

0.09

-0.04

-44%

56%

Bethel

0.48

0.71

-0.23

-32%

68%

Bettles

0.10

0.58

-0.48

-83%

17%

Cold Bay

1.39

2.70

-1.31

-49%

51%

Delta Junction

0.02

0.18

-0.16

-89%

11%

Fairbanks

0.21

0.25

-0.04

-16%

84%

Gulkana

0.01

0.30

-0.29

-97%

3%

Homer

1.95

1.65

0.30

18%

118%

Juneau

3.45

3.78

-0.33

-9%

91%

King Salmon

0.76

0.70

0.06

9%

109%

Kodiak

3.96

5.53

-1.57

-28%

72%

Kotzebue

0.34

0.44

-0.10

-23%

77%

McGrath

0.04

0.81

-0.77

-95%

5%

Nome

0.53

0.65

-0.12

-18%

82%

St. Paul Island

1.20

1.07

0.13

12%

112%

Talkeetna

1.01

1.05

-0.04

-4%

96%

Valdez

3.02

4.54

-1.52

-33%

67%

Yakutat

4.05

11.04

-6.99

-63%

37%

 

 

Description: First Order Precipitation

Daily mean precipitation deviation from the normal for the 20 first order stations for March 2014.

 

 

Snowfall was below normal (72%) for the 16 stations that report snowfall. Ten of these stations reported below normal values with McGrath reporting the relatively lowest value at just 4% of normal. King Salmon and Nome topped the stations with positive deviations at 138% of normal.

 

Station

Snowfall

Observed
(in)

Normal
(in)

Delta
(in)

Delta
(%)

(%)

Anchorage

10.9

9.9

1.0

10%

110%

Annette

0.3

6.9

-6.6

-96%

4%

Barrow

1.8

2.1

-0.3

-14%

86%

Bethel

4.7

8.2

-3.5

-43%

57%

Bettles

2.1

9.3

-7.2

-77%

23%

Cold Bay

6.8

13.0

-6.2

-48%

52%

Fairbanks

3.1

4.9

-1.8

-37%

63%

Juneau

6.0

11.6

-5.6

-48%

52%

King Salmon

8.8

6.4

2.4

38%

138%

Kodiak

11.5

11.3

0.2

2%

102%

Kotzebue

6.8

5.9

0.9

15%

115%

McGrath

0.4

11.3

-10.9

-96%

4%

Nome

12.3

8.9

3.4

38%

138%

St. Paul Island

8.4

8.0

0.4

5%

105%

Valdez

33.5

48.4

-14.9

-31%

69%

Yakutat

7.8

28.4

-20.6

-73%

27%

 

 

The maximum monthly precipitation total reported for the 20 First Order Stations was 8.14" at Annette, which also reported the highest daily total of 2.23" on the 7th. The highest one-day snowfall occurred at Nome on the 14th with 7.1", a new daily record, while Valdez reported the highest monthly snowfall of 33.5". Valdez also topped the stations for the deepest snowpack of 42" on the 17th.

 

Due to the overall low precipitation for March, there were limited numbers of daily precipitation records, and all were set between the 11th and 15th. Only two snowfall records were reported: one in Bethel, and one in Nome, both during the mid month storm.

 

 

 

Precipitation Records

Date

Station

Element

New
Record

Old
Record

Year of
old Record

03/11/14

Craig

Precipitation

2.68

0.37

1992

03/11/14

Hollis

Precipitation

3.75

0.88

1962

03/11/14

Ketchikan

Precipitation

5.20

1.99

1994

03/11/14

Petersburg

Precipitation

3.97

1.38

1976

03/11/14

Sitka

Precipitation

1.39

1.13

1976

03/13/14

Bethel

Snowfall

1.60

1.50

2001

03/13/14

King Salmon

Precipitation

0.18

0.14

1990

03/13/14

Kotzebue

Precipitation

0.20

0.19

1988

03/14/14

Anchorage

Precipitation

0.41

0.17

1988

03/14/14

Nome

Snowfall

7.10

2.70

1954

03/15/14

Ketchikan

Precipitation

2.14

1.90

1972

 

Description: Figure 3

This infrared satellite image from the National Weather Service shows high-pressure weather pattern affecting the mainland of Alaska on March 28th, 2014. This pattern borough warm temperatures and dry conditions across the region during the end of the month.

 

 

Newsworthy Events

 

The Iditarod race started off on the 2nd of the month with very difficult trail conditions due to unusual weather this winter. The race ended on the 11th with a very strong storm hitting the Nome coastal area. A lack of snow caused the closure of Turnagain pass area to snowmachines on the 7th. Heavy snowfall and avalanche warnings were issued for the Portage and Moose Pass areas on the 10th. A high wind warning was issued for Anchorage on the 12th. A winter storm on the 14th dumped between one and three feet of snow across parts of Anchorage area with 27" falling up on the hillside. Thirteen flights were diverted from Anchorage to Fairbanks, while one flight went to Kenai, where the passengers had to spend the night at the Kenai Airport. All that snow resulted in three major avalanches in the Chugach Mountains, however no one was hurt. The mild winter resulted in less snowpack on the Denali Park Road, and road crews began work clearing the road during the second half of the month. This is very different from last years late spring and heavy snow load on the road. The road was open to Savage River by the end of the month.

 

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 August 2011.