Kenai Fjords’ December weather was characterized by cold temperatures and very low precipitation, a continuation of the dry, windy weather experienced in November. The persistence of this weather pattern resulted in a thin, early-season snowpack but good ice development on local waterbodies for winter recreationists to enjoy. As indicated by the 30-year normal (1981-2010), December typically ranks as the second wettest month of the year in Kenai Fjords but, in 2013, it was the second driest month of the year. Measurable precipitation was recorded at the Seward airport on nine days of the month with 80% of total precipitation occurring on two days, December 21st and 31st ( 0.41 and 0.35 inches, respectively.) Wind speeds were relatively high throughout the month with daily average wind speeds exceeding 15 mph on 11 days of the month.
As recorded at the Seward airport, total precipitation was 0.95 inches (10% of normal), 8.59 inches below the 30-year average (1981-2010) for the month. The monthly average temperature for December was 26.7 degrees F; 2.2 degrees F below the 30-year average. In general, winds were active throughout the month with a maximum daily average wind speed of 22.8 mph recorded on December 16th and a tie for maximum wind gust of 49 mph, recorded on December 16th and December 25th.
Also of note:
• The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s three month weather outlook (January-February-March) favors below-normal temperatures and normal precipitation for the Kenai Fjords area.
• NOAA’s 2013 Arctic Report Card reports on several climate change-induced changes to arctic tundra vegetation including increased vegetation productivity (greenness), increased length of growing season, increased number and severity of tundra wildfires, and the expansion of trees and shrubs into northern latitudes in recent decades.
• NOAA’s Earth Observatory illustrates arctic water temperature departures from normal in 2013, indicating that most surface waters, including Alaska’s Turnagain Arm, were warmer than average in summer 2013.
• Check out the new interactive map created by the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP), illustrating Alaska climate and weather highlights for 2013.
• The National Research Council published a new book, Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises, to address the current state of knowledge on potential abrupt changes and to identify important research and monitoring needs.
• The National Wildlife Federation published a report on climate change impacts to big game and their habitats and identifies actions that can be taken to reduce risks and increase resilience.
• NOAA climate services portal serves as a single point-of-entry for NOAA’s extensive climate information, data, products, services, and the climate science magazine ClimateWatch.
Read more to find out about the local climate for December 2013