Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Disappearing Snow

With last week's snow all but gone in Fairbanks, it's interesting to see where snow is hanging on across the interior and north.  We can get a broad sense of this from the SNPP satellite landcover imagery.  The images below were taken at about the same time mid-afternoon yesterday (top) and today (bottom); blue is indicative of snow and ice cover.  The Brooks Range and North Slope are pretty well snow-covered, except for patches of the western North Slope inland from Wainwright, and south of Point Lay.  In the interior, the Tanana valley, the middle and lower Koyukuk, and the Yukon Flats and upper Yukon valley clearly have little snow; but the high terrain is snowy throughout the interior.  Note also the lack of sea ice so far in the southern Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

A quick tour of SNOTEL sites and FAA webcams confirms that last week's snow is mostly gone at low levels, but plenty remains at elevation.  Here are a few snow depths as of last report:

Eagle COOP: 0"
Chicken COOP: 1"
Fort Yukon SNOTEL: 1"
Bettles SNOTEL: 3"
Coldfoot SNOTEL: 4"
Fairbanks airport (as of midnight): 1"
Upper Nome Creek SNOTEL (2520' MSL): 10"
Munson Ridge SNOTEL (3100' MSL): 11"

Here are a few webcam shots for good measure.


  1. With the current angle of the Sun in Fairbanks at ~65*N (~20* at Solar noon; any snow in areas shaded by terrain or vegetation is slow to disappear, if ever this winter. Clouds of any significance further reduce insolation.

    In my experience periods around the dual yearly Equinox triggers either increasing warmth and snow melt in the Spring, or the establishment of cooling and permanent snow in the Fall.

    A Solar calculator:


  2. Gary, indeed the sun doesn't have much to offer now, and I suspect the recent snow would have survived even at the airport if temperatures had been merely normal (now down to max/min of 39/23) with no rain.

  3. Climate looks very clear after disappearing the snow or fog as well. software development company