Saturday, June 8, 2013

Not Much Thunder Yet

Courtesy of AFS

The Alaska Fire Service as had some issues with the lightning detection network (both under and over reporting strikes), but there is no doubt it's been a slow start to the convective season in Interior Alaska. The plot on the right plots strikes May 25th through Saturday morning. Here on Keystone Ridge, there has been no thunder heard to date. Only once in the past 17 years have we gone past June 9th without any thunder: that was in 1998, when there was no thunder heard here until June 28th. Of course, it is not uncommon for Fairbanks airport to not have reported thunder by June 8th. The fire expansion has slowed with the wetter weather this week. The total acreage burned as of Saturday morning stands at just under 46,000 acres. More than 60% of that total is from the Doestock Creek fire south of Aniak.


  1. Rick,

    If I'm understanding you correctly, Fairbanks airport experiences considerably less thunder than Keystone Ridge at this time of year. If this is correct, what's the reason? Is it just the elevation difference?

    Now that it's June, I can ask a question that's been on my mind for some time... what is your opinion on the purported U.S. all-time record low temperature for June, from Anaktuvuk Pass (-1 F, June 25 1967)? I looked up the GHCN data and verified that the report exists, but I find it almost unfathomable with 24-hour daylight on that date. It's hard to imagine they could have had much snowcover, with plenty of warm days in the month prior to the 25th. I didn't see anything particularly unusual in other northern Alaska stations reporting around the same date.

    The main reason I'm interested is that I've seen this record referenced as the only sub-zero temperature recorded in the U.S. in June, so it seems rather significant if true.


  2. Richard,

    Since virtually all thunder in Interior Alaska is "airmass" type (as opposed to, say, "frontal", cells develop preferentially over the higher terrain. The highest frequency of thunder in the Interior (and in Alaska) is over the Yukon-Tanana uplands, with probably three or four times for thunder days per summer than Fairbanks Airport. Keystone Ridge, being on the western edge of the uplands definitely gets less thunder than areas east of the Steese Highway.

    As of the -1F at Anaktuvuk Pass on Jun 25th, I have looked at this several times. I'll do a post on it.

  3. Rick,

    Thanks for the explanation... makes perfect sense.