Snow, wind and rain disrupt life as usual in Nome
By Diana Haecker
Puddles on ice, slippery sidewalks and heavy wet snow berms are remnants of a three-day weather event that pummeled Nome and the region.
Over the weekend and for the most part on Monday and Tuesday, only the ravens were flying as fog, drizzle and at times heavy wet snow coming down sideways hampered travel by air or on land . Alaska Airlines canceled flights between Anchorage and Nome since Saturday due to a series of storms, leaving traveling Nomeites stranded in Anchorage.
According to Bering Air’s tweets, all regional flights were canceled on Monday with some resuming to fly on Tuesday.
Among those stranded in Anchorage are the mayor of Nome and the city manager. Due to weather, the scheduled Nome Common Council meeting was first postponed to Wednesday and then rescheduled to Monday, March 13, at the Public Safety Building due to the occupancy of Council Chambers by Iditarod personnel. Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting was canceled altogether.
School started on Monday with a one-hour delay; the pool, library and museum were closed on the weekend.
From Saturday through Monday, the National Weather Service at the Nome Airport measured a total of 1.29 inches precipitation (melted snow plus the rain). According to UAF Climate Specialist Rick Thoman, “that’s the highest three day total on record for Nome in March in the past 116 years. However, he adds a caveat: “The NWS Automated Surface Observing Systems was dead during the big storm March 6-8, 2021.” Estimated precipitation during that storm was about one inch.
Four of the top ten highest March three-day precipitation totals have occurred in the past six years: 2023, 2021, 2020, 2018.
“That’s climate change right there,” said Thoman.
The peak wind at Nome Airport reached 45 mph on March 4.
Teller saw the highest wind reported at 71 mph, again with a caveat that many weather stations are not reporting.
Three separate storms were responsible for bringing a slushy mess to the region. According to Thoman, the first storm moved along the Russian coast into the Gulf of Anadyr Saturday into Sunday and the associated weather front brought the first snowy and blizzard conditions. The next storm was right on its heels and moved almost due north from west of Adak into the Gulf of Anadyr on Sunday. That storm brought the surge of really warm air and more snow and rain. This storm moved by a stationary weather front, from the southern Chukchi Sea south through the Bering Strait to east of St Matthew Island – and dumped more snow and rain to the east of this front on Monday.