Friday, August 30, 2013

First Snow Climatology

August 29th is the anniversary of the earliest snow on record for Fairbanks. On 8/29/1922, 3.0" of snow was recorded. This is the only instance of an August snow event. The second earliest snow occurred on September 2nd, 1980, when 1.6" fell. The normal first measurable snow falls on September 29th. The latest first snow on record was back in 1918 when no snow was measured until October 31st. A close second place was 1969 when the first snow waited until October 29th. Snowfall records began in Fairbanks in 1914. The normal first snowfall is September 30th. As for snowpack, that typically sets in about two weeks after the first snowfall (October 15th). The earliest winter snowpack was established on September 13th in 1992 and the latest was on November 11th in 1962. (Note: the date of onset was identified by the first date when the snow depth existed for at least 21 consecutive days.)


  1. Something I have always been really curious about is the weather maps and height fields leading up to and following the September 1992 arctic outbreak across the state. Additionally I would imagine the arctic front was stalled somewhere over south central Alaska. (I was living in Anchorage that year and it got quite cold early)
    Data seems limited on the Internet on this event but would anyone out there be interested in rebuilding the cause of that event?
    Thanks for reading!

    1. Mike,

      I'll gin up something on the Sept 1992 snow. I've got a file full of info from the event, including a presentation about it, but none of it has ever been digitized.


  2. This is the earliest measurable snow in Fairbanks. There have been multiple "trace" snowfalls (not hail) in August, the earliest being August 7, 1969 and the most recent being Aug 31, 2005.

  3. Fall 1992 was memorable and the effects on local trees lasted the winter. Laden with leaves they bent with the freezing precip and remained so through the winter. My marten trapline was rendered impassable in many spots.

    Evidence of similar events (some no doubt from mid-winter chinooks and freezing rain) are detectable if one closely looks at the birch trees in affected areas.