Average Weather Conditions
Collision of marine air masses from the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska with continental air masses from Alaska's interior gives the Lake Clark/Iliamna Lake area extremely variable weather patterns. Alaska Geographic Volume 13, Number 4.
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve has two distinct climate areas: the damp coast and the drier interior. The coast is often foggy and wet, with an average annual rainfall of 40 to 80 inches. The interior averages only 17 to 26 inches. The same weather systems that bring precipitation to the coast also bring milder winters; the interior often suffers temperatures as low as -40 degrees F.
Visitors to Lake Clark National Park and Preserve might bask in warm, gentle sunshine, be pummeled by fierce storms, or get soaked by rain. Weather conditions can change rapidly, and the mountainous terrain channels fierce winds. Gusts in the 30-50 mph range are not uncommon.
Frost and snow can occur any time, but are most common from September to early June. Lake Clark typically begins freezing in November and melts in April. Ice conditions dictate whether planes on floats or skis can land.
In general, visitors should be prepared to experience a number of different weather conditions during their stay in Lake Clark. Sturdy rain gear and waterproof footwear are a must, and smart travelers make sure to layer clothing.Port Alsworth Weather Quick Facts
Average Summer Temperatures: 50° to 65° F
Current weather information in the park can be obtained in a number of ways.
National park Service weather stations are a useful tool for obtaining current weather conditions. They record and archive hourly weather observations including wind speed and direction, snow depth, and air temperature among other data. Stations are located strategically throughout Lake Clark National Park & Preserve. The interior of the park has stations in three locations: Port Alsworth, Snipe Lake, and Stoney. The coast currently has stations in two locations: Hickerson Lake and Silver Salmon Lakes , though Hickerson Lake is scheduled to be removed in 2014. One site, high in the Chigmit Mtns, captures data at elevation.
In addition to supporting real-time needs, the four weather stations operated by the National Park Service's Southwest Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Network are intended to also provide reliable climate data that can help researchers understand ecosystem changes, identify natural variability in weather, and identify long-term climate trends. Click here to learn more about weather and climate science.
Live-feed aviation weather webcams operated by the Federal Aviation Administration provide a visual of current weather conditions. Cameras located in the Lake Clark area include: Nondalton, Lake Clark Pass East, Lake Clark Pass West, Lake Clark Pass RCO, Merrill Pass High, and Merrill Pass Low. Too see current images, look for the name of the desired camera on the FAA webcam site list.
You can download a park map that includes approximate locations of select FAA webcams and NPS weather stations. For exact locations, please visit the website for each webcam or weather station using the links above or those inbeded in the map.
NOAA Weather Forecasts
In addition to obtaining weather information for areas located in the park, it can be critical to be be aware of the weather in the communities where air taxi and guide services are located, including Anchorage, Kenai and Homer.