Thursday, August 16, 2012

Record Heavy Rain in Alaska

While almost 62 percent of the lower 48 states deals with drought conditions, a series of storms systems have dumped excessive amounts of rain on northwestern Alaska so far this week. Amounts in excess of five inches have been recorded so far, with 5.0 inches at Red Dog Mine, 3.50 inches of rain at Kivalina and 2.50 inches a Kotzebue. Northwest Alaska is a relatively dry region, and the amounts received this week amount to about one-third of the average annual precipitation. In this region, a three inch rainfall in three days is a once in a hundred year event!

Image courtesy of NWS Alaska Region

The heavy rain has caused flooding and river levels are expected to remain high the rest of the week. Two more storm systems are forecast to hit the area in the next two to three days producing additional rainfall one one to three inches.

Weather map for Thursday, August 16.  Source: NWS Anchorage, AK
Forecast map for Saturday, August 18, 2012.  Source: NWS Anchorage, AK
Interestingly, it has been dry in central southern Alaska.  Anchorage has received only 0.61 inches of rain so far this month, with a normal August total 3.30 inches.  Fairbanks, with an average total of 1.88 inches in August, has only mustered 0.13 so far this month.

Most of our CoCoRaHS stations in Alaska are in and around Anchorage. A couple of the Anchorage CoCoRaHS stations have recorded a little over an inch for the month, but as is typical during the summer, precipitation can vary a lot over a small distance, even in Alaska.

Thanks to colleague Sam Shea for the "heads up" on this unusual event.

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