Rain returned to Southeast Alaska, but not enough to change ongoing drought conditions. Parts of Southeast remain under severe drought conditions after months of abnormally low rainfall across the region.

Warm and Dry

The Nenana ice classic broke a record for the earliest ice breakup since the tradition began back in 1917, and both the Kuskokwim and Tanana rivers saw the same record broken.

Anchorage was right on track in terms of moisture, but that wasn’t the case for the rest of the state. Delta Junction received just 34 percent of its normal precipitation year-to-date — raising fire concerns as the Oregon Lakes fire grew to more than 12,000 acres. Southeast Alaska is also experiencing drought.

Southeast Drought

A persistent ridge of high pressure has dominated the weather pattern in Southeast this year which has kept conditions dry and warm across the region. Because of that, much of Southeast is facing drought.

According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, 2019 began with more severe drought than any other start to a year this century. Drought conditions typically worsen during the summer months, usually peaking around July or August. The current drought in Southeast dates back to July 2018. 

The most recent drought monitor, released May 16, puts about 47,000 residents in abnormally dry conditions. Of those, 22,000 people are in drought conditions. Those conditions are primarily in Southeast Alaska.

Breakdown of Alaska drought level of severity

  • Severe Drought – 0.9% of the state
  • Moderate Drought – 1.3% of the state
  • Abnormally Dry – 3.6% of the state

Little has changed in the drought monitor recently. The little rain that has fallen has been enough to keep conditions from becoming worse, but not enough to make any drastic improvements. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center forecasts drier than normal weather in the weeks and months to come.

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