Climate of Anchorage, Alaska

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First winter snowfall on the Chugach Mountains in September 2005

The climate of Anchorage, Alaska is a subarctic climate (Köppen climate classification Dfc) due to its short, cool summers. Average daytime summer temperatures range from approximately 55 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 26 degrees Celsius); average daytime winter temperatures are about 5 to 30 degrees (-15 to -1 degrees Celsius). Anchorage has a frost-free growing season that averages slightly over 100 days.

Average January low and high temperatures at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (PANC) are 11 °F/23 °F (-11 °C/-5 °C) with an average winter snowfall of 75.5 inches (192 cm).[1]

The weather on any given day and indeed for entire seasons can be very unpredictable. Some winters feature several feet of snow and cold temperatures, while others, just a foot or two of snow and frequent thaws, which put dangerous ice on the streets.

On March 17, 2002, a record snow storm dumped 26.7 inches (68 cm) of snow on the Anchorage area in 24 hours,[2] closing schools for the next two days. The storm broke the city record for the most snowfall in a single day. The storm, which started the evening of March 16, easily surpassed the old record of 15.6 inches (40 cm) recorded on 28 December and 29 December 1955. On March 17, 22 inches (56 cm) were measured by the National Weather Service,[2][3] topping the old record of 15.6 inches (40 cm) set on December 29, 1955.[3]

Anchorage
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
0.7
 
23
11
 
 
0.7
 
27
14
 
 
0.6
 
34
19
 
 
0.5
 
45
29
 
 
0.8
 
56
39
 
 
1
 
63
47
 
 
1.8
 
66
52
 
 
3.2
 
64
49
 
 
3
 
55
41
 
 
2
 
40
29
 
 
1.2
 
27
17
 
 
1.1
 
24
13
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

The 2011-2012 winter had 134.5 inches (342 cm), which made it the snowiest winter on record while the least snowiest winter of record was 1957-1958 when 30.4 inches (77 cm) of snow fell.[3] The coldest temperature ever recorded at the original weather station located at Merrill Field on the East end of 5th Avenue was −38 °F (−39 °C) on February 3, 1947.[4]

Due to its proximity to active volcanoes, ash hazards are a significant, though infrequent, occurrence. The most recent notable incident was an August, 1992 eruption of Mt. Spurr, which is located 78 miles west of the city.[5] The eruption deposited about 3 mm of volcanic ash on the city. The clean-up of ash resulted in excessive demands for water and caused major problems for the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility.

Summers are typically mild (although cool compared to the contiguous US and even interior Alaska), though it can rain frequently. Average July low and high temperatures are 52 °F/66 °F (11 °C/19 °C) and the hottest reading ever recorded was 86 °F (30 °C) on June 25, 1953.[4] The average annual precipitation at the airport is 16.63 inches (422 mm).[1]

Because of Anchorage's latitude, summer days are very long and winter daylight hours are very short. Anchorage is often cloudy during the winter, which decreases the amount of sunlight experienced by residents.[6]


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  2. ^ a b "PAFC March 2002 Precipitation". National Weather Service. March 2002. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  3. ^ a b c "Snowfall Records for Anchorage Alaska". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  4. ^ a b "Temperature Records for Anchorage Alaska". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  5. ^ "Mt. Spurr's 1992 Eruptions". Alaska Volcano Observatory. Retrieved 2008-11-26. 
  6. ^ For November, December, and January, average monthly percent possible sunshine (the hours of direct sunlight experienced, divided by the possible hours of sunlight for the location) is below 35%. See http://climate.umn.edu/cawap/mpr/jargon.htm for an explanation of the concept "percent possible sunlight." Data from Data Through 2005 Average Percent Possible Sunshine. National Climatic Data Center. Last accessed November 20, 2006.
  7. ^ The office is located at 61°09′22″N 149°59′02″W / 61.1562°N 149.9840°W / 61.1562; -149.9840, just south of the airport grounds. Anchorage weather data were recorded at Merrill Field from February 1916 to January 1953 and at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport from February 1953 to January 1998; the data have been recorded at the NWS office since February 1998.
  8. ^ "Station Name: AK ANCHORAGE FRCST OFC". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  9. ^ "Monthly Averages for Anchorage, AK". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  10. ^ "Climatological Normals of Anchorage". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  11. ^ "Station Name: AK ANCHORAGE INTL AP". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2014-03-11.