Alaska Weather Summary | Summer 2008
Temperature
Aside from a sliver of the Arctic coast, the summer of 2008 brought cooler than normal temperatures to Alaska, most significantly to southern sections of the state. The Anchorage International Airport recorded a mean summer temperature of 54.3°F, which ranks as 3rd coldest on record, and the Juneau Airport had the 4th coldest summer on record with a mean temperature of 52.7°F. For many locations, the cooler weather was due to cloud cover reducing the daytime highs, while nighttime lows remained near climatology.

Sea surface temperatures in the waters around Alaska were mainly cooler than normal for the summer. In the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, ocean temperatures were up to 3.5°F below average. Along the Arctic coast, however, the ocean surface was up to 2.5°F warmer than normal for the summer. By the end of August, perennial sea ice in the Arctic Ocean had made a significant retreat north, though not as far as the record-setter of last year.
Rainfall amounts for the summer were below normal for much of the western half of the state and panhandle, while wetter conditions prevailed in the east. The highest departures from normal for the east-central Interior were brought about thanks in part to a record-setting week of July 28th - August 3rd that resulted in flooding of area rivers. Rainfall totals for that week ranged from 2 to more than 4 inches and ranked as the wettest on record for places like Fairbanks, North Pole, Big Delta, and Nenana. The summer rainfall total in Fairbanks of 8.86 inches ranks as sixth wettest on record and is just an inch and a half shy of the normal total for the whole year.

Lightning and Wildfire
Lightning activity peaked during June and early July and trailed off markedly the remainder of the season. The total number of strikes reported by the Alaska Lightning Detection System was more than 51,500 with almost 90% of this occurring the first half of summer.

With cool and wet weather for much of the state this summer, wildfire activity was quite low with a total of 365 fires (mostly human ignited) that burned an area of 103,298 acres statewide. This is well below the approximate 1 million acres that burn on average. A good portion of the fire activity occurred in the upper Yukon and northeastern portions of the Interior.
Tabular Data for Summer
Monthly Statewide Summaries
Click on the map for a larger image.
Summer (JJA) Precipitation Statistics
Location
Total (in)
Departure (in)
Barrow
2.05
-0.18
Nome
4.77
-1.75
Fairbanks
8.86
+3.99
Anchorage
6.72
+1.03
Juneau
14.92
+2.05
King Salmon
5.49
-1.25
Summer (JJA) Temperature Statistics
Location
Average (°F)
Departure (°F)
Barrow
38.2
+0.1
Nome
47.9
-2.3
Fairbanks
58.6
-0.9
Anchorage
54.3
-2.2
Juneau
52.7
-2.8
King Salmon
51.7
-2.1
Where are these locations? Click here for a map.

Preliminary data courtesy of the National Weather Service.
Questions or comments? Contact the Alaska Climate Research Center.
Posted September 24, 2008