Alaska Weather Summary for March 2012

April 9, 2012

 

Temperatures were substantially below normal this March for all of the 10 stations discussed here. This is in contrast to February, which was warmer than normal. Most of Alaska was below normal with the exception of the last week of the month, which was seasonally warmer. Negative deviation in excess of 5 degrees Fahrenheit, in declining order, occurred for King Salmon (minus 14.7 degrees), Nome (minus 9.8 degrees), Big Delta (minus 7 degrees), Fairbanks (minus 6.9 degrees), Kodiak (minus 6.9 degrees) and Anchorage (minus 5.2 degrees). The mean of the 10 stations gave a deviation of minus 6.9 degrees Fahrenheit.   

 

Precipitation was slightly above normal, with a mean deviation of 11 percent. Fairbanks recorded the highest value with 288 percent of normal. This continues the trend of above normal precipitation from the previous month. On the other side of the spectrum, Barrow reported only 0.01 inches, the lowest absolute value of all stations and only 11 percent of the expected amount.

 

In Fairbanks, the average March temperature was 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit, a substantial 6.9 degrees below the long-term mean. Furthermore, the mean temperature was colder in March than in February, a relatively infrequent occurrence. The high temperature for the month was 44 degrees on March 28. The month’s lowest temperature, minus 30 degrees, occurred March 5th. For most of the month, the temperatures were below normal, with the exception of the last week. No new daily records were set.

 

Precipitation in March was far above normal, with 0.72 inches of water-equivalent. This amount is close to three times the long-term mean of 0.25 inches. Snowfall (14.7 inches) was exactly three times of normal, which for March is 4.9 inches. Precipitation March 6-7 was remarkable and set new daily records. On the 6th, 0.28 inches of water-equivalent snow fell, slightly more precipitation than expected for the whole month. It is also a new record for the day, surpassing the old record from 1985 of 0.24 inches. Snowfall for this day was 6.9 inches, also substantially surpassing the old record of 3.5 inches set in 1943. On the 7th, 0.17 inches were measured. Once again, this set a new daily record, as the previous maximum was 0.15 inches, which occurred in 1967. The snowfall for this day was 2.7 inches, tying the old record of 1932. This event was caused by strong advection of relatively warm and moist air from the west, with a slight southerly component. On the 6th the highest wind speed, 23 mph, was recorded. The mean monthly wind speed was 3.9 mph. 

 

In Big Delta, the mean March temperature was 7.1 degrees Fahrenheit, somewhat higher than the temperature of Fairbanks and minus 7 degrees below the long-term mean for March. It is believed this is caused by the more frequent occurrences of Chinook winds, which bring warmer than seasonally normal temperatures. This station is situated much closer to the Alaska Range and is more affected by these winds. The highest monthly temperatures of 43 degrees Fahrenheit was observed on the 29th and 30th of March. The minimum temperature, minus 28 degrees, occurred March 5.  No new records were set during the month. 

 

Precipitation in March was reported as 0.27 inches water-equivalent, 50 percent above the normal of 0.18 inches for the month.

 

In Juneau, the average temperature was 33 degrees Fahrenheit, slightly below the normal of 33.8 degrees for March. The maximum temperatures for the month, 51 degrees, occurred on March 28. The month’s minimum temperature, 16 degrees, was recorded March 5. No new temperature records were set during the month and temperatures were quite close to normal.

 

Precipitation totaled 2.82 inches of water-equivalent, which was 25 percent below normal. A storm on March 8 was remarkable, with wind speeds up to 48 mph, blowing from a southeasterly direction. Winds on the 8th not only registered the highest wind speed for the month, but also advected a great amount of moisture. This highest daily amount of precipitation for the month, 1.06 inches, also occurred on this date. The observed monthly snowfall was measured as 14.6 inches, which was 3 inches above the normal value. Furthermore, mean cloudiness was high, with 80 percent. The average wind speed at the Juneau International Airport was 7.3 mph. 

 

Anchorage recorded an average temperature of 21.4 degrees Fahrenheit, 5.2 degrees below the normal of 26.6 degrees. This is a remarkable change from February, during which the mean temperature was higher than March's mean temperature. The maximum temperature of the month, 47 degrees Fahrenheit, occurred March 29 and 31. The month’s minimum temperature, 0 degrees Fahrenheit, was observed on March 12. The observed temperatures were below normal for the month, with the exception of the last week. There were no new daily records were set in March.

 

Precipitation was reported at 0.63 inches of water-equivalent, only slightly above the normal of 0.6 inches. As expected, snowfall gave similar proportions. There was 9.5 inches of snow measured for the month, close to the normal of 9.9 inches. On March 3rd, 3.3 inches of snow fell, which was the highest amount for the month. However, this was not a new record for day. The average cloudiness was 70 percent and the mean monthly wind speed was calculated as 3.8 mph. Data for peak wind speeds were missing for most of the month.

 

Nome reported a mean monthly temperature in March of 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit, a substantial negative deviation of 9.8 degrees from the long-term mean. The warmest monthly temperature, 34 degrees, was observed March 29th. It also was the only day in March when the temperature surpassed the freezing point. The coldest temperature, minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit, occurred March 11th. 

 

Precipitation totaled 0.33 inches, about half of the normal value of 0.65 inches water-equivalent. On March 5, more than half of the monthly amount, 0.18 inches, fell on the 5th. The month’s snowfall was 6.7 inches, 2.2 inches less than the long-term mean. The average wind speed for the month was 6.1 mph. The highest gust observed was occurred March 27th. It was 36 mph, blowing from a northeasterly direction.

 

In March, Barrow reported an average temperature of minus 21.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is 8.9 degrees below normal. All of the month was seasonally below normal, with the exception of two days – March 11 and 12. The month’s maximum temperature was 3 degrees Fahrenheit on March 11. The month’s lowest temperature, minus 35 degrees, was observed March 5th. No new temperature records were observed. 

 

Precipitation in Barrow totaled 0.01 inches, an extremely low value, representing only 11 percent of the expected value. The mean monthly wind speed was 8.9 mph. A gust of 28 mph occurred on March 23, blowing from a northeasterly direction.

 

King Salmon reported an average temperature of 9.4 degrees Fahrenheit, an astounding 14.7 degrees below the long-term mean of 24.1 degrees. The high temperature was 45 degrees on March 29. The low temperature for the month was a chilly minus 27 degrees on the 4th and was a new record low for the day. Two other record low days were observed in March. On the 18th, minus 21 degrees was recorded, surpassing the value of minus 20 degrees set in 1966. On the 20th, minus 26 degrees Fahrenheit was measured. The old record low was minus 21 degrees set in 1966. In general, the whole month was seasonably cold, with the exception of the last week. 

 

The precipitation total was measured as 1.12 inches, 60 percent above the normal of 0.7 inches. Accordingly, the observed snowfall, (24.6 inches) was substantially above the long-term mean of 6.4 inches. Average wind speed was 7.2 mph. The highest gust, 39 mph, blew from a southeasterly direction, on March 23.

 

Ketchikan’s average temperature of 35.8 degrees Fahrenheit in March was 2 degrees below the long-term mean. Generally, the temperature was slightly below normal, with the exception of the last week of the month. The highest temperature of the month, 51 degrees, occurred on the 27th and 28th of March. The month’s low temperature, 22 degrees, occurred March 5. 

 

Monthly precipitation was measured at 10.69 inches, very close to the normal of 10.89 inches. March 8th was notable, with a precipitation total of 2.18 inches. 

 

Kodiak's average temperature of 25.9 degrees Fahrenheit in March was substantially below normal, with a negative deviation of 6.9 degrees. Plus, it was colder than the previous month. The month’s highest temperature, 46 degrees, occurred on March 30. The month’s low temperature, 7 degrees, occurred on the 3rd. No new temperature records were set for the month.

 

Monthly precipitation was measured at 3.33 inches, 60 percent of the expected amount of 5.53 inches. The total snowfall for March was recorded as 18.1 inches. On the 1st, 5.5 inches of snow fell, slightly surpassing the old record of 5 inches that was set in 1959. By month’s end, only 5 inches of snow was on the ground. The monthly average wind speed was calculated as 11 mph. On March 11, a gust of 48 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.