Record Rainfall in Fairbanks adds to unusual summer weather

Picnic areas at the Tanana Lakes Recreation Area remain submerged under water after a record...
Picnic areas at the Tanana Lakes Recreation Area remain submerged under water after a record setting weekend of rainfall in Fairbanks. (KTVF)
Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 3:28 PM AKDT
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Summer solstice weekend was anything but typical for the Fairbanks area, where the longest day of the year is celebrated annually.

The Midnight Sun Run went virtual, while the Midnight Sun Baseball Game was not hosted by the Alaska Goldpanners for the first time in 60 years.

Also unusual for the time of year, the amount of rainfall over the weekend.

Father's Day Sunday featured a record rainfall for any June 21st recorded in Fairbanks, with a total of 1.13 inches, washing away the record of 0.58 inches set in 1962. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), Sunday concluded a three-day total rainfall of 1.88 inches from June 19-21, also a record for June.

"We saw a similar pattern to this last year in August," Karen Endres, Senior Service Hydrologist with the National Weather Service Fairbanks said. "This is the first time we have seen a prolonged rain event in June in a very long time, but this is an unprecedented June. It is very wet, it is going to be very cold, and it is just going to be a little different this year."

The record rainfall prompted several flood watch and flood warnings across the Interior.

Current flood warnings issued through Wednesday evening include the Tanana River in Fairbanks and Nenana, the Salcha River, the Goodpaster River near Pogo Mine, and the Fortymile River.

For the Tanana, the National Weather Service says water levels are expected to peak Thursday and will remain elevated as water progress downstream. Low lying areas may be impacted, and NWS suggests turning around if you encounter flooded roads.

Residents in the area of the Goodpaster River are advised to move to higher ground, as river levels are expected to remain high through the week.

The Salcha River flood warning is in effect until 8:30 p.m. AKDT Wednesday and areas such as campgrounds near the river will be inundated, according to the National Weather Service.

"So far, the system has been responded fairly well, nothing really major." Endres said. "But we are watching all of the impacts and trying to contact everybody that would be impacted by this."

As of noon Tuesday, the Fairbanks National Weather Service said they had not have any reports of residential flooding.

"Most of the flooding that is happening is within the river systems and streams. It is direct runoff from the rain that we have seen come through." Endres said. "Groundwater levels will respond, but they are a little bit slower to respond than surface water runoff.

The Goodpaster area at the Pogo Mine did have some issues with their air strip, but no residential flooding that we have a report of at this point." Endres added.

The heavy rainfall this weekend was proceeded by a hot streak of weather followed by a series of thunderstorms, both contributing to red flag warnings in the Interior.


was spotted earlier this month, adding to the series of environmental developments in Fairbanks this summer.

Late snowfall in April and warm temperatures in May led to rapid snow melt causing high water levels and flooding concerns on the Chena River.

"This summer has definitely been different than any of the other summers I have had up here, not that I have had a ton of them," Endres said. "We put out our red flag warnings fairly early this year and then we got hot weather, which came after an unusual winter as well. Things are a little different this year."

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