Barrow sets new record for latest date without snow cover

By Yereth Rosen, Alaska Dispatch News - October 17, 2016
Webcam view of sea ice in Barrow on Oct. 15, 2016
Webcam view of sea ice in Barrow on Oct. 15, 2016

Five months after a record-early spring snowmelt, the northernmost community in the United States has set a new record for late snow accumulation.

The ground in Barrow was barren of snow on Saturday, breaking the previous record for the latest calendar date for zero snow-cover in that community, the National Weather Service reported. The old record for the latest day without snow coverage was Oct. 12, 1998.

The weather service confirmed the new record on Thursday. A trace of snow has fallen since then, but it is not enough to be considered measurable snow-cover, so “every day has been a new record,” said Don Aycock of the weather service in Fairbanks.

Though there were some tiny patches of snow on Saturday, the ground remained mostly bare.

The forecast called for slight chances of snow on Sunday and Monday, and the weather agency was planning to check after midnight Saturday to see if measurable snow had accumulated, Aycock said.

Barrow’s weather and climate records go back to 1920.

The snowless period in Barrow has been particularly long this year. Snowmelt, as measured by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Barrow Observatory, started on May 13 this year, 10 days earlier than the previous record.

The new no-snow record comes after a stretch of unusually warm temperatures in Barrow.

The first 10 days of this month were the warmest on record for Barrow in that early October period, with temperatures averaging 10.4 degrees above normal, the weather service said.

Several other places in North and West Alaska also had record-warm early October stretches, the agency said.

Kotzebue, Nome, Iliamna, Cold Bay, King Salmon and St. Paul posted the warmest Oct. 1-10 periods on record, and Bethel had the second-warmest average temperature on record for the period, the agency said. Communities in Southeast  also had their driest Oct. 1-10 periods on record, the agency added.