Saturday, June 3, 2023

Record Late Snow in Bettles

With climate observations back to 1951, Bettles has not previously recorded measurable snow in June, but yesterday the observer there reported three-tenths of an inch of snow.

The temperature was slightly above freezing, so it didn't last long; but a bit more light snow occurred this morning.  What a way to start summer.

Here are a couple of webcam photos that I happened to grab yesterday morning.  It was 2am in Bettles, and broad daylight of course, being just north of the Arctic Circle.

This leaves only July without measurable snow in the climate history of Bettles.  As far as August is concerned, there's only one event, but it was the real deal: 2.6" on August 9, 1969.  It fell in the middle of the day, and there was still 2" on the ground the next morning, with a low temperature of 26°F.

In Fairbanks-land, a NWS meteorologist reported a good covering on top of Murphy Dome last night - enough to ski on - and all of the SNOTEL sites above 1800' elevation have reported snow on the ground for the last 3 days.

Remarkably, this appears to be the first time any of the SNOTEL sites (7 of them in the hills above Fairbanks) has seen accumulating snow significantly after meltout.  The only time any of them has seen snow after meltout at all was at Teuchet Creek, which is the lowest in elevation and typically melts out earliest (May 7 average); and in those cases (1999 and 2021) there was only a single day between meltout and a brief return of snow around the beginning of May.

For most of the sites with snow (all but Munson Ridge and Upper Chena - the two highest) it's also the latest on record with snow on the ground.

However, the period of record is only about 40 years: 5 of the 7 SNOTEL sites were installed in 1980 or 1981.

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