Fairbanks sees record temperatures for December 1st, Southeast Alaska sees record rain

Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 4:47 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Tuesday, Fairbanks broke a record for the highest temperature ever recorded on December 1st.

According to Alex Young, Meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS), a strong, southerly Chinook air flow spread throughout the Alaskan Interior during the day. He said the flow started in the hills and then trickled into the valley.

Chinook setups occur when winds traveling over the Alaska range warm due to compression before reaching the Tanana Valley. “We won’t see any precipitation, but we’ll see the warming conditions that occur that we saw yesterday,” Young said.

During the afternoon, Fairbanks International Airport registered the record 39°F.

“As the low pressure system moved out of the area, the wind started to die down. We’ve already seen temperatures, especially at the valley level, already plummet into the single digits this afternoon,” Young explained.

Meanwhile, Southeast Alaska has seen record rainfall over the last 48 hours. Cody Moore, Meteorologist with the NWS in Juneau, described an “atmospheric river” that is producing the heavy rainfall.

Atmospheric rivers occur when a stream of moisture travels north to Alaska from tropical areas, according to Moore. “The copious amounts of moisture being pushed in, plus the steep terrain that we have, that’s just a fantastic setup for extremely heavy rain over a prolonged period of time for this area.”

Another 1-3″ of rain are expected over the next 12 to 24 hours, according to Moore.

“We’re a rainforest, so we get much more rain than most areas in the United States see, but we actually broke many daily, one-day rainfall records over the past 24 hours. Juneau, Haines, Pelican, Sitka, Gustavus, we all broke all-time, one-day rainfall records,” he said.

Juneau’s previous rainfall record was set in 1946.

Moore said, “All of this rain led to multiple mudslides in Juneau, Haines, Hyder and Skagway. So there’s been damage reports all throughout the panhandle from this. there’s been river rises, there’s been quite a few impacts.”

A flash flood watch is currently in effect for the area including Haines and Skagway.

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