Alaska Weather Summary: February 2012

March 12, 2012

Temperatures were above normal this February for all nine of the stations operated by the Alaska Climate Research Center. February’s temperatures are in stark contrast to a colder than normal January. Most of February was above normal with the exception of the last week of the month, which was colder than seasonably typical. Five of the stations reported average temperature variations of more than 2 degrees higher than monthly normals: Big Delta (12.8 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal), Fairbanks (7.2 degrees F higher), King Salmon (5.4 degrees F higher), Anchorage (5.0 degrees F higher) and Juneau (3.6 degrees F higher). The mean of the nine stations gave a deviation of 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit from typical February temperatures.

 



Precipitation was generally above normal, Anchorage having the highest value with 247 percent more than normally expected. This continues the far above standard trend for this station, as Anchorage also had the highest deviation in January. Only two stations reported values below normal, namely Juneau, where 75 percent of the expected precipitation was observed and Ketchikan, with 89 percent of the normal value.

 


In Fairbanks the average temperature was 5.9 degrees Fahrenheit, a substantial 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit above the long term mean for February. It was the warmest February in ten years. It is remarkable that the February temperature was more than 30 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than in January, further demonstrating that January was an unusually cold month. The high temperature for the month was 31 degrees Fahrenheit on Feb. 5, while the lowest temperature was minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit observed on Feb. 1. For most of the month, the temperatures were above normal with the exception of the first four days and the last day of the month. No new daily records were set.

 


Precipitation in February matched the normal at 0.42 inches water-equivalent. Snowfall (7.5 inches) was also close to the normal of 8.1 inches, and on twelve days of the month at least some snowfall was observed. No new precipitation records were observed. Wind speed averaged a low 2.5 mph, typical for Interior Alaska, where the surface temperature inversion hinders the wind aloft to reach the surface. The highest gust of 23 mph was observed on Feb. 2, blowing from a southerly direction.

 


In Big Delta the mean February temperature was 17.7 degrees Fahrenheit, substantially higher than the temperature of Fairbanks. It is believed this is caused by the more frequent occurrences of Chinook winds, which normally bring in above seasonal temperatures. This station is situated much closer to the Alaska Range, consequently is more affected by these winds. The monthly deviation was very large with a positive value of 12.8 degrees Fahrenheit. The highest monthly temperature (42 degrees F) was observed on Feb. 10, while the minimum temperature (minus 21 degrees F) occurred on Feb. 4. The maximum temperature on Feb. 13 of 37 degrees Fahrenheit tied the old record high of 1969 for this day.

 

 

Precipitation in February was reported as 0.42 inches water-equivalent, 0.14 inches above normal.

 


In Juneau, the average temperature was 33.7 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.6 degrees above normal for February. Despite the above normal temperature, 26 of the 29 days had minimum temperatures at the freezing point or below. The maximum temperatures for the month (48 degrees F) occurred on Feb. 3 and 9, and the minimum temperature (16 degrees F) occurred on Feb. 26. The temperature on Feb. 3 was an absolute high for this specific day, surpassing the old record high of 1984 by 4 degrees. The high temperature of Feb. 9 (48 degrees F) also established a new record, surpassing the temperatures reached on this day in 1968 and 1963 by 1 degree.

 


Precipitation totaled 3.10 inches water-equivalent, which is 1.03 inches below normal. The observed snowfall measured 5.2 inches, which represents 31 percent of the normal value. Further, sky cover was high at 80 percent. Average wind speed at Juneau Airport was 8.6 mph with a peak wind gust of a substantial 56 mph on the Feb. 3, blowing from a southeasterly direction.

 

Anchorage recorded an average temperature for February of 25.2 degrees Fahrenheit, 5.0 degrees above the normal of 20.2 degrees F. This is a remarkable change from January, during which the mean temperature was more than 20 degrees colder. The maximum temperature of the month occurred Feb. 9 at 41 degrees F, while a minimum temperature of 7 degrees F was observed on Feb. 29. The observed temperatures were below normal for the first and last days of the month, while the rest was above normal; no new daily records were set.

 

Precipitation was reported at 1.78 inches water-equivalent, which is 147 percent above the normal value. As expected, snowfall gave similar results; 27.8 inches were measured for the month, 155 percent above the normal of 10.9 inches. On Feb. 3, new daily maxima, both for precipitation and snowfall, were observed. The water-equivalent of 0.69 inches surpassed the old record high of 0.29 set in 2000, while the snowfall of 9.1 inches was higher than the previous record of 5.4 inches set in 1970. On 19 days at least a trace of snow fell. It is the fifth snowiest winter in the history of Anchorage at this point. The average monthly wind speed was calculated at 5.6 mph.

 

 

Nome reported a mean monthly temperature in February of 9.4 degrees Fahrenheit, a positive deviation of 2.0 degrees from the long term mean. The warmest monthly temperature was 38 degrees F, observed on Feb. 8, while the coldest temperature was measured on Feb. 1 at a frigid minus 39 degrees F. A new temperature minimum was set on Feb. 2, with a minimum of minus 38 degrees F, surpassing the old minimum of minus 37 degrees F that was reached in both 1910 and 1914. The following day, the temperature dropped to minus 37 degrees F, matching the old record from 1947.

 

Precipitation totaled 1.08 inches, surpassing the expected amount by 16 percent. Snowfall for the month was 19.0 inches, 6.8 inches more than the long-term mean. On Feb. 4, 9.9 inches of snow fell, nearly doubling the old record (5.0 inches) for this day set way back in 1916. In addition, the associated water equivalent of 0.49 inches was a new record, breaking the old record of 0.44 inches, also set in 1916. The average wind speed for the month was light with 10.9 mph, and the highest gust observed was 49 mph on Feb. 4 blowing from an easterly direction.

 

Barrow reported an average temperature in February of minus 12.2 degrees Fahrenheit, 2.0 degrees above normal. The beginning and end of the month had temperatures that were seasonally below normal, while the rest were above the long-term average. The maximum temperature occurred on Feb. 6 at 11 degrees F, and the lowest temperature of minus 44 degrees F was observed on the first day of February. No new temperature records were observed during February.

 

Precipitation in Barrow totaled 0.21 inches, a low value typical for the North Slope. It was nevertheless 0.07 inches above normal. For the month, 6 inches of snow fell, more than double the normal of 2.6 inches. The mean monthly wind speed was 10.7 mph and a gust of 32 mph occurred on Feb. 5, blowing from a northeasterly direction.

 

King Salmon reported an average temperature of 24.2 degrees Fahrenheit, 5.4 degrees above to the long-term mean of 18.8 degrees F. The high temperature for February was 42 degrees F, recorded on Feb. 5, 6 and 7, while the low temperature of a chilly minus 31 degrees F occurred on Feb. 3. In general, Feb. 2 and 3 and the last three days of the month were uncharacteristically cold, while the rest of the month measured above normal temperatures. No new record temperatures were set for February.

 

The precipitation total was measured as 1.12 inches, 47 percent above the normal of 0.76 inches. Accordingly, the observed snowfall (12.4 inches) was above the long-term mean of 6.0 inches. Further, on Feb. 26 a record 0.28 inches water-equivalent of precipitation was recorded topping the previous record of 0.19 inches from 1971. Average wind speed was 13.1 mph and the highest gust was recorded at 58 mph on Feb. 5, blowing from a southerly direction. The mean monthly cloudiness was 80 percent.

 

Ketchikan’s average temperature of 37.1 degrees Fahrenheit in February was 1.3 degrees above the long-term mean, a relatively small deviation. Generally, the temperature was above normal for most of the month with the exception of the last week. The highest temperature of the month measured 53 degrees F on Feb. 9, while the low temperature of 24 degrees F occurred on Feb. 26. On Feb. 2 the maximum temperature of 50 degrees F matched the record set in 1964.

 

Monthly precipitation was measured at 9.32 inches, somewhat below the normal of 10.53 inches. Feb. 2 had a notable 1.98 inches of precipitation.

 

Kodiak's average temperature of 31.7 degrees Fahrenheit in February was 0.9 degrees above the long-term mean. The beginning and the end of the month were seasonally colder than normal, while the rest of the month was slightly above normal. The highest temperature measured was 44 degrees Fa on Feb. 15, while the low temperature of 6 degrees F occurred on Feb. 3. No new temperature records were set for the month.

 

Monthly precipitation was measured at 6.60 inches, 21 percent above the expected amount of 6.14 inches. The total snowfall for the month was observed as 26.3 inches, surpassing the normal of 15.1 inches. On sixteen days of the month at least a trace of snowfall was observed, however no new precipitation records were set. The monthly average wind speed was calculated as 13.3 mph, and on Feb. 3 a gust of 51 mph was recorded, blowing from a westerly direction.

 

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 web site at http://akclimate.org. Please report any errors to webmaster@akclimate.org.