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Contact: Deb Kurtz, 907-422-0544
Kenai Fjords National Park and the surrounding areas experienced an unusually warm start to what is locally, though unofficially, considered early winter. Daily high temperatures recorded at the Seward airport reached into the high 40s and low 50s the first three weeks of the month and were above freezing on all days in November except the 27th. Three new daily record high temperatures were set (November 12th, 16thand 18th) and one was tied (November 10th) at the Seward airport.
Temperatures at the Harding Icefield Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS) were also warmer than normal for November but remained below freezing throughout the month. This means that precipitation that fell at this site (located at an elevation of 4200 ft in the northern part of the ice field) fell as snow. The freezing temperatures on the ice field were accompanied by gusty winds the first half of the month when gust speeds greater than 40 mph (and a maximum of 83.4 mph) were recorded on 17 consecutive days. Farther out in the fjords the temperatures were warmer and the gusts were faster. The McArthur Pass RAWS recorded daily maximum temperatures above freezing throughout the month. At midmonth, average wind speeds above 50 mph and gusts up to 102 mph were recorded at this site when a Bering Sea-record-low-pressure-
Although November’s precipitation was slightly above normal, the above freezing temperatures prevented any snow from developing at lower elevations until the final weekend of the month. As of December 3rd, 8.7 inches of snow were measured at Exit Glacier at the first monthly snow survey for the season. This was slightly deeper than the last two years, but was the fourth lowest December 1st snowpack recorded at Exit Glacier since the park started measuring snow in 1989.
As recorded at the Seward airport, the monthly average temperature for November was 36.7 degrees F; 5.8 degrees F above the 30-year normal. The total precipitation was 8.6 inches (118% of normal), 1.29 inches above the 30-year normal (1981-2010) for the month.
Also of note:
- The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center's three month weather outlook (December-January-February) favors above-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation for the Kenai Fjords area.
- Scientists at Columbia University are investigating how algae in Arctic sea ice contributes to the underlying marine ecosystems, and which marine organisms depend on the algae for nutrition.
- NASA’s Earth Observatory captured satellite images of Pavlof, Alaska’s most active volcano, sending plumes of ash into the atmosphere in early November.
- NASA’s Earth Observatory also captured images of the mid-November extratropical cyclone that passed through the southern waters of Alaska and triggered an extreme cold spell in the central U.S.
- Check out NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center’s map showing the coldest day of the year across the United States. It’s no surprise to see that the Kenai Fjords area experiences its annual deep chill in late January.
- Still confused by the term “ENSO”? The World Meteorological Organization has published a new document explaining thecause and effect of the infamous weather phenomena known as El Niño and La Niña.
- New research published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides a new twist to the concept of global warming: instead of acting like a planetary blanket, global warming’s effect is more like that of tanning oil.
- The geography of ocean acidification: Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has developed a new map showing the variability of ocean acidification in space and time. In northern winter, the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Siberia, is the most acidic region on earth.
- NOAA climate services portal serves as a single point-of-entry for NOAA's extensive climate information, data, products, and services.