Alaska Unseasonably Warm in January 2014
January 2014 was remarkably mild across nearly all of Alaska, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The same high-pressure system responsible for the intensification of drought in California kept southerly winds aloft for most of the month. This influx of warm air kept temperatures above normal across all of Alaska, resulting in a January average temperature ranking among the “top ten” warmest on record for many Alaskan communities.
January 2014 was Alaska’s warmest January since 1985, and the fourth warmest in the past seven decades, according to NOAA’s analysis of temperature data from 14 geographically widespread weather stations across the state. Several long-term climate stations in southern and southwest Alaska recorded their warmest January ever. At Anchorage the average temperature for January 2014 was warmer than the average January temperature in Philadelphia and New York City this year!
Alaska locations registering the warmest average temperature ever recorded in January at those locations included Seward (61ºF), Homer (57ºF) and Kotzebue (40ºF). The high temperature measured at Alaska’s Palmer Airport of 58ºF far exceeded any reliable temperatures ever recorded in January in that area, according to NOAA.
The Climate Reference Station at Port Alsworth registered a high temperature of 62ºF on January 27, tying the record for the highest temperature ever reported in Alaska in any January.
The warm temperatures caused snow cover to dwindle across the state. In parts of the Matanuska Valley north of Anchorage, snow cover disappeared by late January, exposing dry vegetation that posed a very unseasonable risk of wildfire. Warm, wet chinook winds also wiped out snow cover near Healy and south of Delta Junction in Interior Alaska. In southern Southeast Alaska, the snowline was high up the mountains—a sign of low snowpack that could lead to water shortages for hydropower electric production by late spring.
January rains November, December and January marked the first time Fairbanks had ever received measurable rain in three consecutive winter months in more than a century of observations, NOAA reported.