Monday, August 22, 2016

No Freeze Yet

None of the usually colder reporting sites around the Fairbanks area has seen a freeze yet this month, and this is unusual compared to recent years.  The normally chilly Goldstream Creek and Ester 5NE (Goldstream Valley Bottom) COOP sites came close a few days ago, with both sites reaching 33°F, but the closest site to Fairbanks to hit 32°F so far is a COOP site 20 miles southeast of Delta Junction.

Looking back at the past 10 years, here are the coldest temperatures reported by August 22 in the general vicinity of Fairbanks:

Aug 9, 2006   29°F   Ester 5NE COOP
Aug 10, 2007   30°F   Fairbanks RAWS
Aug 12, 2008   28°F   North Pole COOP and Ester 5NE COOP
Aug 20, 2009   23°F   Fairbanks RAWS
Aug 22, 2010   26°F   Fairbanks RAWS
Aug 6, 2011   30°F   Mile 42 Steese Highway COOP
Aug 22, 2012   25°F   Ester 5NE COOP
Aug 22, 2013   30°F   Mile 42 Steese Highway COOP
Aug 22, 2014   27°F   Ester 5NE COOP
Aug 15, 2015   31°F   Goldstream Creek COOP

The last time the first freeze report came in later than August 22 was in 2004, when it occurred on the 25th.  That year also saw Fairbanks airport stay at or above 45°F until the 28th, the latest on record; but if current forecasts are to be believed, that record may be in danger this year.

The chart below shows daily low temperatures at Ester 5NE this summer.  In the 18 years that this COOP site has been operational, freezes have been recorded even in the height of summer - for example:

31°F   June 25, 2009
31°F   July 4, 2002
31°F   July 9, 2012
31°F   July 20, 2011
30°F   July 21, 2014

Consider this as a metric of how persistently mild it's been this summer: the low temperature at Ester 5NE stayed at or above 40°F for 54 consecutive days this summer; this is more than double the previous record of 25 days, set in 2005.


  1. Been a bumper crop of mosquitoes this early fall. Worst I've seen in years. Ideal conditions for sure. My corn is producing ears though. Perhaps this frost free warmth will stretch til mid September, but my old Alaskan bones doubt it.

  2. Little brown stealth fighters these mosquitoes. Some years they appear probably from all the rain puddles and warmth. Common DEET repellant has little effect. No gnats to speak of yet but their turn is surely coming.

    Local folks along College Road with old basements are reporting ground water's down less than 5' in my old well casing in my shed.

    Looks warm this Fall ( but mid-winter could be cold again.


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    1. Hmmm. I'll have to go down and check mine. I live along Noyes Slough and it was pretty high a few weeks ago.
      Voracious little vampires for sure. Just came from a walk and I have some bites around my hands and ankles. It's like the typical June crop has returned. Cold mid winter ,cool spring, dry spring. I'd be ok with that.

  4. The classic study of Alaskan Mosquitoes:

    Good discussions of their relationship to seasonal weather, climate, behavior, control methods, and taxonomy. Wet conditions play an important factor in their relative abundance...well yes!


  5. The mosquitoes have been bad. I've been bitten too many times. And their unusual stealthiness makes things worse.

    I think it would be cool to see mosquito Google searches in Alaska vs weather conditions. (Something that sounds like Brian's research tastes)

    1. Google Trends shows searches for "mosquito" in Fairbanks this month are the highest for August in over 10 years. Discomfort is in the upper tercile for the time of year.

  6. I don't know the species that's out and about now but would like to learn more. They have effective long distance sensors and quite agile even in a breeze. Small and brown. Drive up in a car and they are active, I assume from exhaust CO2 and heat. They waste no time in homing in for blood.

    The woods and developed areas are wet so maybe they were activated from years past like the study indicates.

    But in a few months most of us would give up -50F for a warm day with the bugs.


  7. They are horribly fast and tiny for sure. Strange for them to be out this late in the season and be so active.
    The trees seem behind on changing colors this year too, but they are starting. Must be more related to reduction in the photo period over cool nights as there really have not been any.