Water Year Precipitation Summary
Water year (September – August) precipitation for 2002 – 2003 for the six Alaska cities of Anchorage, Barrow, Fairbanks, Juneau, King Salmon, and Nome all totaled at or above the average cumulative normal. The seasonal variability for these locations all showed higher total in late spring / early autumn and light precipitation in late winter / early spring.
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After a below normal start in September of 2002, Anchorage received above normal precipitation starting in October. The cumulative total remained above average through the end of the season with a total precipitation of 16.52 inches. This is about one half inch above normal. Although winter precipitation was close to normal for the season, the precipitation type was not. Due to relatively warm winter temperatures, much of the seasonal precipitation fell as rain, rather than snow.
Precipitation is normally quite light on the central Arctic coast, which averages only 4.5 inches annually. Barrow received almost half their annual total by November of 2002, followed by light precipitation events during the winter. Starting on May 23, the observing station went 37 days without a measurable precipitation event. The cumulative total steadily increased in the summer months (which is the time when Barrow receives the most precipitation) and ended the year with 5.13 inches.
The Fairbanks area spent much of the year with about a one inch deficit. However, that all changed thanks to several precipitation events, some heavy, starting in July. On July 27th, 2.33 inches was recorded which brought the cumulative total above normal for the first time since November of 2002. This event was preceded by a 1.1 inch rainfall, and the two-day total of 3.43 inches represents one third of the normal annual total. Rains continued through August and left Fairbanks with an annual total of 12.61 inches, or 2.27 inches above the normal cumulative total.
Precipitation for this part of the southeastern panhandle was very close to climatology this year for much of the season, aside from about a 4 inch positive departure from December through March. The autumn and early winter months normally receive the highest precipitation of 5 – 7 inches, while monthly totals in spring are 3 – 4 inches. Juneau ended the year with 55.79 inches of total precipitation, 2.54 inches (or 4%) below normal.
With a cumulative total of 23.19 inches, King Salmon ended the year 3.37 inches above normal. For virtually the entire year, the cumulative total was in a positive departure. Late summer and early autumn months had the highest precipitation of 2 – 3 inches, whereas late winter and spring receives around 1 inch per month.
Nome spent the majority of the year with above normal cumulative precipitation and received 17.24 inches, 2.4 inches above normal. This total occurred in 149 days with measurable precipitation, and a mean daily total of 0.12 inches.
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