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Really cold and lots of snow highlight November 2011 in Alaska

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Posted: Sunday, December 18, 2011 12:10 am | Updated: 1:36 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS - Temperatures in November were seasonable to cold across Alaska. All of the nine cities discussed here recorded negative deviations from the long-term average. High negative deviations were observed in declining order for Big Delta (minus 11.1 degrees Fahrenheit), Fairbanks (minus 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit), Nome (minus 9.5 degrees Fahrenheit), Anchorage (minus 8.2 degrees Fahrenheit) and King Salmon (minus 7.6 degrees Fahrenheit). These are indeed, very large deviations and are infrequently observed. Even Barrow, which had reported large positive deviations for the last four months, was below (minus 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) the long-term mean. Barrow represents the smallest deviation for the nine-city summary.

Strongly above normal precipitation was observed in Anchorage and King Salmon, with about twice the expected amounts for the cities. On the other end of the scale, Big Delta and Nome were quite dry with only 40 percent of the long-term norm. Other stations were closer to normal, with the following deviations: Juneau (plus 28 percent), Ketchikan (plus 11 percent), Barrow (plus 10 percent), Fairbanks (minus 31 percent) and Kodiak (minus 34 percent).

In Fairbanks the average temperature was minus 8.2 degrees Fahrenheit, a very substantial negative deviation (minus 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) from November’s long-term mean. The high temperature for November was 25 degrees Fahrenheit on the Nov. 4. The lowest temperature occurred Nov. 17. It was minus 41 degrees. Remarkable was the cold spell from Nov. 15 to 22, with low temperatures daily of minus 35 degrees or colder. Six days of the week set new daily record lows. The temperatures were more typical of Fairbanks in the 1960s. Four of those six daily lows broke records that had been set in 1969. It was the sixth-coldest November recorded in Fairbanks, according to a dataset that exceeds a century in length.

Precipitation in November was 0.46 inches water-equivalent, below the expected value of 0.67 inches. This precipitation deficit may be from the lack of snowfall, just 9.2 inches for the month. This was below the mean value of 13.2 inches. The combination of record cold temperatures and a snowfall deficit will enhance the penetration of frost into the ground. This means problems with freezing sewer and water lines can be expected later in the winter. Wind speed averaged 3 mph. The highest gust in November was 30 mph on Nov. 14. Sky conditions were clear for six days, partly cloudy for 14 days and there were 10 overcast days in November.

Big Delta, located about 100 miles from Fairbanks, had a more marked negative deviation from the long-term mean (minus 11.2 degrees Fahrenheit). Big Delta reported a mean temperature of minus 4.9 degrees, which is very cold for November. Normally the winter temperature for the area is slightly higher than Fairbanks, as it is closer to the Alaska Range and the föhn wind is more pronounced. The warmest temperature of the month was 22 degrees on Nov. 30. As in Fairbanks, the middle of the month was especially cold. On Nov. 19, a minimum temperature of minus 36 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded, establishing a new record for the day. The old record was minus 34 degrees, which had occurred in 1963. This was also the coldest minimum for the month. On Nov. 21, a minimum temperature of minus 35 degrees occurred, matching the old value for the day established in 1960.

Precipitation totaled 0.25 inches of water-equivalent, much too dry for the month. This amount surpassed Fairbanks, both in the slight amount as well as the deviation from normal. The precipitation total represents only 40 percent of the expected value.

In Juneau, the average temperature in November was 29.7 degrees Fahrenheit, below the long-term mean of 33.4 degrees. The maximum temperature, 43 degrees, occurred Nov. 1. The month’s minimum temperature, 7 degrees, was recorded on Nov. 20. Precipitation totaled 7.68 inches, 1.69 inches above the long-term mean. Due to the colder temperatures, a higher percentage of the precipitation fell as snow. A total of 50.2 inches were measured, more than three times the average amount. On Nov. 5, 5.3 inches were recorded at the Juneau International Airport, smashing the old record of one inch set in 1984 and prompting the shutdown of public schools. On Nov. 14, 11.6 inches of snow fell, more than doubling the old record of 5.3 inches set in 2009. Sky cover averaged 90 percent; with two clear days, four partly cloudy days and 24 cloudy days over the month. Average wind speed at the Juneau International Airport was 8.4 mph. The highest wind gust of the month was a substantial 53 mph on Nov. 1. Power outages were reported for 5,000 customers due to a storm on that date.

Anchorage recorded an average temperature of 14 degrees Fahrenheit, a substantial negative deviation of 8.2 degrees below the long-term mean for November. The maximum temperature of the month occurred on the first days of November with 33 degrees Fahrenheit. The month’s minimum temperature, minus 8 degrees, was observed Nov. 19, which broke the record that was set in 1963.

Precipitation was reported at 2.32 inches, exactly double the normal value. Further, 32.4 inches of precipitation fell as snow during the month, which was 19.3 inches above the normal snowfall. The mean monthly cloudiness was relatively high. Throughout November, only three clear days were observed, nine days were partly cloudy and 18 experienced overcast conditions. An average monthly wind speed of 7.6 mph was observed. The top gust of 50 mph occurred Nov. 1.

Nome reported a mean monthly temperature of 7.4 degrees Fahrenheit in November. This was a very strong negative deviation of 9.5 degrees from the long-term mean. The month’s warmest temperature was 36 degrees on Nov. 9. The coldest temperature occurred Nov. 27 and 29. It was a chilly minus 17 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the unusually cold conditions for the month, no new temperature extremes were observed in November.

Precipitation was far below the expected range, totaling just 0.49 inches. The mean value for November is 1.22 inches. The average wind speed for the month was 8.3 mph. The highest gust, 66 mph, occurred Nov. 9.

Barrow reported an average temperature of minus 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit in November. This was below, but relatively close to the normal of 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit. A maximum temperature of 28 degrees occurred Nov. 1. The month’s minimum temperature, minus 23 degrees, was observed Nov. 23. Particularly during the middle of the month, above normal temperatures occurred. No new temperature extremes were observed during November.

Precipitation in Barrow, which is low like all of northern Alaska, totaled 0.23 inches. This amount was very close to the normal of 0.21 inches. The total includes 7.9 inches snow. The amount of 0.07 inches water-equivalent (1.5 inches of snow) on Nov. 1 tied the old record for the date. The mean monthly wind speed was 11.9 mph. On Nov. 9, a gust of 53 mph occurred.

King Salmon reported an average temperature of 15.3 degrees Fahrenheit, substantially below the long-term mean of 22.9 degrees Fahrenheit, in November. The highest temperature of the month was 44 degrees, recorded on Nov. 3. The month’s low temperature, minus 25 degrees, occurred Nov. 26. New record low temperature extremes were reported. The first occurred November 23 at minus 19 degrees, matching the old record for the date set in 2005. A couple of days later, the minimum temperature was recorded again as minus 19 degrees, matching the record of 1948. On November 26, the minimum went down to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit, surpassing the old record low set in 1963.

The precipitation total was measured as 2.72 inches, notably above the long-term mean of 1.39 inches. Especially remarkable was the precipitation on Nov. 3, with 0.66 inches. The amount set a new record for that date. The old record, set in 2002, was 0.43 inches. In November 9.5 inches of snow was reported. The average wind speed was 11.8 mph, with the highest gust occurring on Nov. 3. It was 56 mph.

Ketchikan’s average temperature was 36.4 degrees Fahrenheit in November. This was 2 degrees below the long-term mean. The highest temperature of the month, 48 degrees, occurred Nov. 1. The month’s low temperature was 23 degrees and occurred Nov. 17. The temperatures in Ketchikan followed the long-term mean more closely than other stations in Alaska during November. No new temperature extremes were observed.

Monthly precipitation was measured at 18.24 inches, somewhat above the expected amount of 16.63 inches. The highest daily precipitation, 2.93 inches, occurred Nov. 1.

Kodiak reported an average temperature of 28.4 degrees Fahrenheit for November. The mean monthly temperature was 5.5 degrees below the long-term mean. The maximum temperature of 45 degrees occurred on Nov. 3, 5 and 6. The month’s lowest temperature, 4 degrees, happened Nov. 22. Several new record low temperatures were set. On Nov. 21, the low temperature went down to 7 degrees, breaking the old record from 1942. The following day, the low went down to 4 degrees, breaking the old record of 12 degrees set in 2008. Finally, on Nov. 27, the low dropped to 7 degrees Fahrenheit, just below the old record of 8 degrees set in 1963.

Precipitation was reported as 4.53 inches, only 66 percent of the long-term value. However, 27.7 inches of snow were measured for the month, considerably (333 percent) above the expected value of 6.4 inches. The mean wind speed was 12.4 mph. On Nov. 12, a 62 mph gust was recorded, which was the highest value for the month.

This information consists of preliminary climatological data compiled by the Alaska Climate Research Center, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks. For more information on weather and climatology, contact the center at 474-7885 or visit the center website at http://akclimate.org. Please report any errors to webmaster@akclimate.org.

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