2005 Year in Review - Fairbanks
Record warm May, early spring, and dry August highlight Fairbanks weather in 2005
2005 Statistics
The year 2005 started off with some wide temperature swings in Fairbanks, which is typical for winter in interior Alaska. Temperatures hovered around freezing for the first week of January, then plummeted to -40°F and lower with thick ice fog in the Tanana Valley. The lowest temperature of the year of -47°F occurred on the 12th. The January average temperature was near normal, but snowfall was plentiful and the greatest 1-day snowfall total of the year occurred on the 5th with 4.2 inches. February had a cold start with several consecutive days of temperatures below -40°F. In fact, there were 8 days with temperatures below -40°F for the year, all of which occurred in January and February.

March was quite warm in Fairbanks as temperatures went well above freezing, and on several occasions reached the low 40's. The above normal temperatures were widespread, extending all across Alaska. In April, temperatures were also above normal and at month's end there were two record highs of 70°F on the 27th and 71°F on the 29th. This warmth helped to melt the winter snowpack and by the 24th all of the 2 feet of snow on the ground at the start of the month had melted. Spring came early in 2005 as the trend continued into May, which reported no temperatures below freezing and green-up during the first week. Fairbanks had the warmest May on record with an average temperature of 55.6°F, beating the old record set in 1990 by 0.6°F. Precipitation was also above average for May with twice the normal amount and two record daily precipitation totals of 0.45 inch on the 15th and 0.49 inch on the 17th.

The weather in June was near normal with temperatures slightly above average. Thunderstorms were prevalent and particularly active on the evening of the 10th causing a power outage for about 100 homes near Fairbanks. Smoke from area forest fires became noticeable by the second half of the month. July brought twice the normal precipitation total with 3.44 inches, including the year's highest 1-day amount of 1.02 inches on the 18th. In what is normally the month with the highest rainfall amount, August, the total in 2005 set a new record low of 0.24 inch, breaking the 2004 record dry August. Smoke continued to affect the Fairbanks area for August. The first snow of the season was reported with flurries observed at the airport close to midnight on the 31st.

The fall colors reached a peak in early September and most leaves were off by the third week of the month. The first measurable snowfall was reported on the 28th with 0.3 inch. October brought mostly above normal temperatures but only half the normal precipitation amount with just 2 inches of snow on the ground by November 1st. The seasonal snowpack got a boost with over 14 inches of snow during November. Temperatures during the month were much cooler than normal with a monthly mean of -5.1°F, which was colder than Barrow. However, temperatures certainly rebounded in December with a mean monthly temperature almost 7°F warmer than normal. A couple of Chinook events sent temperature soaring up above freezing in the first half of the month. Along with the warmth came dryness as Fairbanks had just 4.2 inches for December, a deficit of 10 inches. As a result, the seasonal snowpack held at 9 inches at the start of the New Year, about half of normal.
Mean Annual Temperature 29.1°F
Departure from Normal + 2.0°F
Highest Temperature 84°F (13 Aug)
Lowest Temperature -47°F (12 Jan)
Total Precipitation 11.81 inches
Departure from Normal +1.47 inches
Maximum 24hr Precipitation 1.02 inches (18 July)
Total Snowfall 61.8 inches
Departure from Normal -5.4 inches
Maximum 24hr Snowfall 4.2 inches (5 Jan)
New Record Highs / Lows 2 / 0
Highs Above 85°F 0 days
Lows Below -40°F 8 days
Heating Degree Days 13163

Questions or comments? Please contact the Alaska Climate Research Center.
Posted: 19 January, 2006