Fairbanks Annual Weather Review for 2013

March 13, 2014

Fairbanks, AK temperatures in 2013The temperature of Fairbanks was somewhat above normal for 2013 at a mean temperature of 28.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The highest temperature of 92 degrees was observed June 25 and June 26, close to the summer solstice with more than 21.5 hours of sunlight. There were 30 days with temperatures above 80 degrees, surpassing the long-term mean of twelve days by more than twofold. The lowest temperature of the year, minus 48 degrees, occurred January 27. There were only six days with minima below minus 40 degrees. Fairbanks had more hot days than normal in summer and fewer cold days than normal in winter. However these deviations are hardly visible in the mean annual temperature that is close to normal. 


Looking at the monthly data, it is clear that very large variations were observed on a monthly basis. The greatest departure from normal was observed in April, which was an astonishing 14.5 degrees Fahrenheit below the long-term mean of 32.5 degrees. It was the third coldest April on record for more than 100 years. The lowest temperature for the month was a chilly minus 21 degrees on the 11th. That temperature was a new daily record low, breaking the old record of minus 17 degrees set in 1955. Another record low was set April 12 with minus 15 degrees. This temperature broke the 1936 record of minus 12 degrees. Then on the 28th, the temperature bottomed out at 2 degrees shattering the 1924 record of 8 degrees. With the exception of the first three days of the month, April temperatures stayed significantly below normal for the rest of the month.  


On the other side of the coin, it reached 44 degrees Fahrenheit in October, much too warm with a deviation of 11.9 degrees above normal. The warmest temperature for the month, 57 degrees, was recorded on the 18th and 19th. The max of 51 degrees on April 28 was a new record, breaking the old high of 44 degrees from 1959. Overall, this was the third warmest October experienced in Fairbanks in 109 years.


June, July and August all had above normal temperatures, with June leading the positive deviations. This brought many sunny, warm days. There were two occasions when temperatures were above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, which is unusual for the Interior. For Fairbanks, with its long-term climate record, it was the second warmest summer (deviation plus 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit); only 2004 reported a higher summer temperature. The summer of 2004 was unpleasant insofar that smoke from large wildfires strongly affected the air quality. More than 6 million acres burned that year. While 2013 had a similar temperature regime; the region was much less affected by smoky air. 


Precipitation in 2013 was 10.65 inches, very close to the expected value of 10.81 inches. The sum of the precipitation for the first five months of 2013 was slightly above normal. Thereafter most of the summer was too dry, but late August and early September and November reported above normal values. This meant the end of the year was very close to the expected value. The snowfall for the year was at 72 inches, 12 percent above the normal value of 63.6 inches. 


The last day of seasonal snow cover was May 11, which was much later than normal. The last frost of the winter came on May 21. Green-up day occurred May 26, which is the latest on record. Growing degree-days totaled 1,418 and the growing season was 117 days long, which was about average. The first frost hit on September 15 and the snowpack was re-established on November 5. As might be expected, heating degree-days was 134 below the normal of 13,666. Correspondingly, cooling degree-days totaled just 226,165. Mean annual wind speed was 4.2 mph, with lower values in winter, when the semi-permanent inversion decouples the surface conditions from the upper circulation.


On November 13 and 14, a strong storm blowing from the Bering Sea brought warm temperatures and rain to Fairbanks, making driving conditions difficult. Schools were closed. A wind gust of 55 mph was measured at the Fairbanks International Airport. Falling trees caused widespread power outages.


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.