Ask a Climatologist: August is Alaska’s rainiest month

(Graphic courtesy of Brian Brettschneider)

August is the wettest month in Alaska. But just how rainy is it in different parts of the state?

We put that question to climatologist Brian Brettschneider. He said the amount of rain in August varies a lot depending on where you are in the state.

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Interview Transcript:

Brian: So we are entering peak wet season in Alaska. For a large part of the state, August has the highest monthly precipitation total.

Annie: Where in the state is it the wettest?

Brian: That’s an interesting question because it’s not even everywhere. If you ask people in Interior Alaska, what’s the wettest month of the year, in the eastern Interior it would July. But for the North Slope the Western half of the state, down into Southcentral, August is the wettest month of the year. If you go down to Southeast, it’s September and even October in some places. So it’s not the same everywhere, but when you throw all those stations into one bucket and you average it all together, you’re going to come up with August as the wettest month in Alaska.

Annie: Is anywhere the driest?

Brian: Interestingly in Kodiak, August is their driest month of the year, but that’s a little bit of a special case because their precipitation is very consistent. The difference between their wettest and driest month is not very much. And so it’s kind of a fluke: August is the driest but not very dry. But other than Kodiak, most other stations are number 1, 2 or 3 for wettest months in August. And then once you get to Southeast, it’s kind of middle of the pack.

Annie: On the ground, how many days of rain are we talking in August?

Brian: Well that’s one of the things I get asked a lot. People say, “don’t tell me how much rain is going to fall, tell me how many days I’m going to lose to rain.” So in Anchorage, about 15 days in August — one out of every two days you’re going to get measurable rain. If you make your way up to Fairbanks, it’s about 13 days and then down in Southeast, in Juneau, 19 days. So August in Juneau is their fifth wettest month, it still rains a lot, it’s a lot of little rains.

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Annie Feidt is the Managing Editor for Alaska's Energy Desk, a collaboration between Alaska Public Media in Anchorage, KTOO Public Media in Juneau and KUCB in Unalaska. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace. Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49th state just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon. afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie