Friday, March 22, 2024


As the weather suddenly turns distinctly springlike for much of Alaska, let's have a look at snowpack across the state.  According to the March 1 snow survey from NRCS:

"... snowpacks throughout the state are generally robust.  In the Interior, portions of the Copper and Upper Susitna are reporting historic March 1 snowpack.  The stations around Anchorage and Valdez are reporting snowpack way above Normal, in some cases historic.  So is that of the Lower Yukon.  On the other end, Northwest Alaska, the Upper Yukon and the lower elevations of Southeast Alaska are reporting below Normal snowpack on March 1."

Click to enlarge the snow survey map:

Comparing this to ERA5 model estimates, there's agreement that the central and eastern interior has relatively lower snowpack than many surrounding areas.  Note that the "Upper Yukon" region in the NRCS summary is located almost all in Canada, and so the ERA5 agrees with low snowpack there too.

There's obvious disagreement regarding the Arctic northwest near and above Kotzebue, but the NRCS assessment of very low snowpack is based on data from a single SNOTEL site.

Here's a monthly series of ERA5 maps to give an idea of how the snowpack evolved earlier in the season.  It was a slow start in the southwest, but the exceptionally wet and not-too-warm winter produced ample snowfall in the end, especially in February.

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