A mix of high and low temperatures and precipitation across Alaska marked June 2012. Thirteen of the twenty first order stations had below normal temperatures, and an average temperature deviation of all twenty stations from the long-term mean could be calculated as minus 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit. Having an overall below normal temperature in both May and June terminates the monthly flip flop between below normal temperatures to above normal temperature seen since November 2011. Bettles had the greatest positive deviation with 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The stations with the next greatest deviations were Barrow (1.7 degrees) and Fairbanks (1.2 degrees). The stations with the largest negative deviation were found along coastal Alaska: Juneau (minus 2.9 degrees), Homer (minus 2.8 degrees), King Salmon (minus 2.5 degrees) and Kotzebue (minus 2.5 degrees). More details can be seen in the table below.
Fairbanks saw its first 80-degree-day on June 19, ten days later than normal. Fairbanks has an average of eleven days a year at or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. With records going back to 1905, there has never been a summer in Fairbanks without at least one 80-degree-day. Anchorage had its first 70-degree-day on June 17.
For June, low temperature records were found in the first half of the month in the Bering Sea region. After that, all new records were for high temperatures. The 23rd and 24th saw nice weather break out across the Southeast and a number of new record highs were set or matched. Both Cold Bay and King Salmon managed to set both warm and cold events during the month.
Similar to temperature, precipitation was mixed with above normal totals for eleven of the twenty stations. The greatest positive deviations above normal were found in Homer (117 percent), Juneau (106 percent) and McGrath (102 percent). At the other end of the spectrum were Kodiak, with only 14 percent of the expected value, or 0.8 inches of the normal of 5.91 inches, Cold Bay with 17 percent or 0.46 inches of the normal of 2.72 inches and St. Paul with 19 percent or 0.26 inches of the normal 1.35 inches. As the positive deviations were more numerous, the mean of the twenty stations ended up slightly positive at 5 percent above normal.
There were few daily precipitation records in June. The 8th was a wet day across all of Southeast, with a new record set in Skagway of 0.23 inches, 0.13 inches above the total from 1910. Haines saw a record rainfall on the same day of 0.47 inches, breaking the 1955 record of 0.34 inches. On the 19th, King Salmon received 0.72 inches, 0.15 inches above the old record from 1955. In addition, Juneau had the wettest June on record. Rain fell on 28 days of the month for a total of 6.69 inches. This is 3.45 inches above the normal and tops the old 1996 record of 6.22 inches. Despite all the rainfall, no new daily records were set in Juneau. Barrow finished its second snowiest winter on record, a record that stretches back to 1920. For the 2011-12 winter, Barrow totaled 76.1 inches. The record is 77.4 inches from 2008-09 and the normal amount is just 47.6 inches. Barrow's snowfall also beat Fairbanks, where only 65 inches fell for the winter.
Melting snowpack and heavy rains in the Yukon Territory resulted in washouts and mudslides along the Alaska Highway and the closure of the road starting June 8. The road, closed along more than 100 miles in two stretches, was reopened to single lane traffic on the 11th. The third week of June saw the Matanuska River surge past its banks as warm weather accelerated the melting of the snowpack. Strong thunderstorms and lighting struck the Interior on several days in June, including a heavy hailstorm on the 4th. One of the storms had winds strong enough to blow off the roof of the North Fork Cabin on the Pinnell Mountain Trail.
Even though it has been a mild year for wildfires in Alaska up through June, two fires are worth mentioning. On the 20th, a wildfire started in the Allakaket dump. The fire quickly spread, but did not threaten the village. Then on the 23rd, lightning strikes south of Nenana and west of the Parks highway started several fires that grew into the Bear Creak Fire (see the map below). Heavy fighting efforts were initiated for both fires.
IMAGE CAPTION/CREDIT: Lighting strikes across Alaska for Saturday, June 23, 2012. There were 1,647 negative strikes and 406 positive strikes. Note the group of strikes west of the Parks Highway and south of Nenana that resulted in the Bear Creek Fires. Map courtesy of the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.
This information consists of preliminary climatological data compiled by the Alaska Climate Research Center, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks. This summary is based on the twenty first order stations in Alaska operated by the National Weather Service. Extreme events of other stations are also mentioned. It should be noted that the new climate normals for the time period of 1981-2010 are applied for the calculations of the deviations, and they can be slightly different from the old normals (1971-2000), which were in use up until end of July 2011.