Historic Snowfall in Anchorage: Record-Breaking November

by Mateo Gonzalez
Anchorage snowfall 2023

NASA’s Aqua satellite, part of the Earth Observing System, captured two distinct images of the Anchorage area in Alaska. The first image was taken on October 26, 2023, showing the region before the onset of heavy snowfall. The second image, from November 19, 2023, depicts a dramatically altered landscape following significant snow accumulation.

Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, experienced an unprecedented amount of snowfall in November 2023. This year marked the highest snowfall for November since records began in 1953, surpassing the half-month mark. Additionally, a mountain pass near the city nearly broke the national record for snowfall within a 24-hour period.

Satellite Imagery Reveals Drastic Weather Shift

The aforementioned satellite images, obtained by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite, illustrate the stark contrast in Anchorage’s landscape before and after the heavy snowfall. The first image, from October 26, shows Anchorage prior to significant snowfall, while the second image, from November 19, reveals the city blanketed in snow after setting a new monthly record. By this time, the National Weather Service in Anchorage had reported a total snowfall of 39.1 inches (993 millimeters) for November, surpassing the 1994 record of 38.8 inches (985 millimeters).

Impact of Severe Snowstorms

A major storm from November 8-10 accounted for roughly half of the total snowfall, depositing about 20 inches (500 millimeters). This storm set new daily records for November 8 and 9. It led to power disruptions, hazardous road conditions, and the closing of several offices. A subsequent storm on November 13 added nearly 9 more inches of snow, exacerbating conditions and causing schools to temporarily transition to online learning.

Snowfall Extremes in Surrounding Mountains

In the mountainous regions around Anchorage, snow accumulation was even more extreme. On November 8, Thompson Pass in the Chugach Mountains, situated approximately 140 miles (220 kilometers) east of Anchorage, recorded a staggering 72 inches (1.8 meters) of snowfall. This amount neared the longstanding U.S. record for the most snowfall in a 24-hour period, which was set in April 1921 in Silver Lake, Colorado, with 76 inches (1.9 meters).

The images and data for this report were provided by Wanmei Liang, utilizing MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE and GIBS/Worldview.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Anchorage snowfall 2023

What was the record-breaking snowfall in Anchorage in November 2023?

In November 2023, Anchorage experienced its highest snowfall for the month since records began in 1953. The National Weather Service recorded 39.1 inches of snow in Anchorage, surpassing the previous record of 38.8 inches from 1994.

How were the changes in Anchorage’s landscape captured?

NASA’s Aqua satellite captured images of Anchorage before and after the snowfall using the MODIS instrument. These images, taken on October 26 and November 19, 2023, show the dramatic transformation of the landscape due to the heavy snowfall.

What were the impacts of the snowstorms in Anchorage?

The heavy snowstorms caused power outages, dangerous road conditions, and office closures. Following a storm on November 13, which added nearly 9 inches of snow, schools in Anchorage switched to remote learning for several days due to the challenging conditions.

Did any nearby regions experience extreme snowfall?

Yes, the Thompson Pass in the Chugach Mountains, about 140 miles east of Anchorage, recorded an extreme snowfall of 72 inches on November 8. This amount nearly broke the U.S. record for the most snowfall in a 24-hour period.

More about Anchorage snowfall 2023

  • Anchorage Record Snowfall 2023
  • NASA Satellite Imagery of Anchorage
  • National Weather Service Snowfall Data
  • Thompson Pass Extreme Snowfall
  • NASA EOSDIS LANCE Information
  • GIBS/Worldview Satellite Data
  • Alaska Weather Patterns and Climate Change
  • Historical Snowfall Records in the United States
  • Impact of Snowstorms on Urban Areas
  • Remote Learning During Extreme Weather Conditions

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MiaR November 25, 2023 - 12:49 am

NASA’s satellites r really cool, can’t believe how different everything looks with all that snow

Sam Jenkins November 25, 2023 - 9:59 am

wow, thats some crazy snow in Anchorage! never thought they’d break the 94 record

EcoWarrior November 25, 2023 - 4:22 pm

Seeing these images really puts into perspective the climate changes were facing

MountainMan November 25, 2023 - 7:30 pm

Thompson Pass always gets a ton of snow but this is something else! almost beat the 1921 record thats nuts!

SchoolMom November 25, 2023 - 7:50 pm

those poor kids, having to switch to online learning again, tough year for them

WeatherGuy99 November 25, 2023 - 7:59 pm

its amazing how these records keep getting broken, climate change?

AlaskaNative November 25, 2023 - 10:41 pm

lived here all my life, never seen snow like this in Nov, roads were a nightmare


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