Wednesday, January 8, 2014

December Anomalies

The maps below show the December climate anomalies for most of the first order observing stations in Alaska; as usual, the area of each circle indicates how unusual the month's conditions were, as measured by the anomaly in standard deviations for temperature and the percentile rank for precipitation (based on the 1981-2010 normals).

It was another warm and wet month in western and southwestern Alaska, and Cold Bay was anything but cold as it experienced its warmest December on record.  The annual average temperature for 2013 was also the warmest on record in Cold Bay.  However, December was colder than normal in the eastern half of the interior and in the southeast.  Fairbanks was relatively warmer and wetter than several other interior locations.

Barrow experienced an extraordinarily wet month again and broke the previous record for December precipitation by over 50%; in fact, December was the wettest calendar month ever observed in Barrow between November and February (inclusive).  Remarkably, three individual days in the month recorded precipitation greater than would normally be expected for the entire month of December.  2013 ended as the third warmest and third wettest year on record for Barrow.


  1. When you say precipitation you mean combined rain and snow, right? Did Barrow get any rain in December?

    I also find it interesting that the dry 0.20 (Delta?) and 0.55 (Bettles?) are surrounded by very wet areas. Assuming that these are accurate -it shows just how much terrain and chance play into the weather.

    1. Eric,

      Correct - combined rain and snow, but melted equivalent of any solid phase. As it happens Barrow did report freezing rain on December 1, but it was light and only lasted about 30 minutes (temperature of 23 F). No other rain in December that I know of.

      It is indeed interesting that Big Delta and especially Bettles were dry. The rank correlation between December precipitation totals in Fairbanks and Bettles is 0.55 (1951-2010), between Fairbanks and Big Delta is 0.44, and between Bettles and Big Delta is 0.35; so your suggestion of large spatial variability is no doubt accurate.

  2. I hope this winter's wx pattern continues. Some warm and wet, some not too cold and dry for Interior Alaska.

    No prolonged stagnant cold with ice fog and air pollution wanted. It stinks along College Road when it's cold, and the Lower Chena River was shrouded in a blue haze (source?) midday.

    We'll have 8 hrs of daylight in about a month to help things out. Now to grind through the rest of January with a flashlight stuck in my mouth to find things.