Blizzard dumps 16.8 inches of snow on Nome
Despite a significant snowstorm that hit Nome and the region with 16.8 inches of snow from Wednesday through Sunday, Nomeites went about business as usual.
Nome Public Schools did not close school for Thursday or Friday and even ballgames at the Nome Beltz High School gym were not canceled. Travel in Nome was difficult and some residents living in outlying settlements around Nome had white-knuckle rides home through the blizzard. Some sports events outside of Nome were canceled. The Nome Ski and Biathlon Team was trying to get to Koyuk but weather turned their plane around and they returned to Nome. The Bering Strait School District basketball games were regionwide canceled.
In Nome, the City’s public works department began clearing the streets on Feb. 24. As of Monday evening, they have hauled 16,580 cubic yards, or 829 truckloads of snow to the city’s snow dump on Greg Kruschek Avenue.
According to Climate Science and Services Manager Rick Thoman with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks, Thursday, Feb. 23 saw 10.1 inches of snow falling that day. This ties for the 8th largest snowfall in the history of record keeping in Nome for snowfall on one calendar day. The snowfall also marks the second highest snowfall in one day for the month of February. February 19, 1920 is still the undisputed record holder with 14 inches of snowfall in one day in Nome.
The storm not only deposited a good amount of snow, but the accompanying winds added to the blizzard drama.
On February 23, the highest gust measured at 42 mph, with sustained winds around 36 mph. In the period between Feb. 23 and Sunday, Feb. 26, a total of 16.8 inches fell on Nome. Temperature-wise Nome saw a huge swing from Wednesday, Feb. 22 when the low temperature was minus 25°F and within 24 hours warmed up to Thursday’s temperature of 32°F, a 57°F increase in temps.
Climate-wise, this winter is seeing typical patterns that a La Niña cycle brings, said Thoman. “One of the main characteristics of La Niña patterns is the variable weather with spells of cold followed by spells of warmth and storminess,” Thoman said.
This winter, so far, has proven to be just that. As the city still continues to plow the roads in Nome and Icy View, temperatures have begun falling into the single digits and negatives again since Sunday. If the weather stays as it is shaping up this week, Thoman predicts a cold run for Iditarod mushers. “It looks like a high is building over Chukotka and a low over the Gulf of Alaska, which will make for cold and dry conditions in the Interior,” Thoman said. “It looks like the odds are that it won’t be stormy.” However, local topography, such as the infamous blowhole at Topkok, can always create unpleasant local wind conditions when the weather in Nome is sunny and calm, he added.