Wettest summer on record in Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The city of Fairbanks has smashed — or, perhaps more appropriately, soaked — its record for wettest summer.

A shower Friday pushed the summer precipitation total to 11.62 inches, breaking the record of 11.59 inches set in 1930. Records have been kept since 1906.

Precipitation totals are taken at Fairbanks International Airport, one of the driest locations in the area. Spots like Chatanika and Eielson can get considerably more rain.

“Since (the airport) got a lot, the other places probably got a whole lot,” National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Berg told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The total encompasses the precipitation received in June, July and August, not the specific dates that mark summer. Fairbanks endured its wettest June on record and second-wettest July. August has been dry by comparison, with 2.28 inches of rain heading into what’s forecast to be a dry Sunday.

Besides drenched gardens and ruined weekends, the soggy summer came with a variety of complications. Septic tanks and foundations around Fairbanks were flooded by the saturated soil, and rising river levels spurred the Army Corps of Engineers to activate the Moose Creek Dam for the first time in six years.

The dam redirects part of the Chena River into the Chena Flood Control Project, sparing Fairbanks a repeat of the flood that covered the city in 1967.

Parts of the Salcha, Chatanika and upper Chena rivers still overflowed their banks in June and July, covering local roads and riverside properties.

There was one bright spot: The Interior had its mildest wildfire season in more than a decade.

Meteorologists don’t know why Fairbanks has had such a wet summer. Though much has been made of this year’s El Nino, a cycle of warm ocean currents in the south Pacific, Alaska Fire Service meteorologist Sharon Alden said its effect on Alaska is relatively small, especially in summer months.

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