Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Record Rainfall

I am really really glad we got out for a beautiful hike on Saturday while we were in Kodiak because on Sunday we woke up to rain - heavy rain - the kind of rain you almost never see in Kodiak. And it didn't stop for 2 1/2 days. Kodiak is of course known for rain, but not this kind of rain, more just constant drizzle (Seattle's drizzle is nothing compared to Kodiak). This storm caused more flooding than I've ever seen before.

We were supposed to leave Kodiak on Monday morning and we left the house at 6:15 to head to the airport. There were a couple of places where water was running over the road, and in places where the road is gravel it was eroding along the edges. We were about half way to town when we go the text our flight was canceled so we turned around and headed home. Some of the places had gotten significantly worse, just in 30 minutes, but at least by that time some DOT personnel were in Chiniak and assessing the conditions.

Water flowing across the road near the road maintenance station while DOT was working on clearing debris from the culvert
Water on the road between Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Creek
After noon we headed back to town again to try to catch the afternoon jet (which ended up being canceled). By that time DOT had unclogged some of the culverts and alleviated some of the flooding on the road. When we came home most places had significantly subsided on the road, however, just about a mile past our house (just past the Roslyn River Bridge), the road had washed in a deep little channel and was impassable. I felt bad for people who didn't make it home that night! But, DOT worked on it that evening and by the morning it was repaired with two new culverts, which was still barely enough to drain the water.

Roslyn River, looking upstream, the water was only ~8" from the top of the bridge

Water in the woods near Roslyn River, looking downstream

The wash-out near Roslyn River
Two new culverts barely keeping up with the water at the wash-out
I'm not sure I've ever seen a weather forecast so accurate in Kodiak, but on Tuesday, within 5 minutes of noon, the rain let up and turned to mist exactly as the National Weather Service said. On our final trip to the airport (when we actually made it out), the water had noticeably subsided. I don't know the total rainfall for the whole storm, but in  Tuesday's Kodiak Daily Mirror it said over 3" had fallen on Sunday (a record for that day), and as of 2:00pm on Monday, the record had already been broken with almost 2".

Major new erosion at the Culvert in Chiniak


  1. I think HARD rain events are becoming more and more common on Kodiak. It has rained more than 2 inches in a day a few times already this (last) year, and a couple times it was 2 or 3 inches followed by 2 or 3 inches. A few years ago we got more than 6 inches in one day and there were numerous landslides. It is interesting that you don't remember this sort of weather from your youth on Kodiak. I think it is because it is happening more frequently. Patrick

  2. After writing my last comment I got worried that I might have 'selective' memory, and I went back and checked the daily records. We did get quite a few of such events last year. And the one in late December was NOT even the worst of them. The storm between November 9th and 13 accounted for 8 inches (and it kept on raining daily after that) and there were 2 days in a row of 2 inches plus rain. On October 9th we got 3 1/2 inches of rain! 4 other times the daily total topped 2 inches and last January 16 to 17 we got 4 inches. Now to check other years and see if 2014 is abnormal. I really do think this kind of thing is happening more frequently. Patrick

  3. I remember the time you guys got 6" in a day - I wasn't living in Kodiak but I heard about it. I do remember once in 1993 or 1994 when had a major rain event at Halloween and there was a landslide in town near the KI. But still, we went Trick or Treating anyway and even though water was definitely high in the creeks, the roads were not washing out in Chiniak. I do remember other times seeing the creeks really high, but nothing like this amount of water running over the road in multiple places (and the pastures in Kalsin Bay so full the water was over the road near the Y). I guess it will be interesting in a few years or decades to look back and see if this is really the beginning of a major change in Kodiak weather.

  4. October 9th 2009 - 6.40 inches in one day! I wonder what the all time one day precip record for Kodiak is? A cool website to check the monthly records is


    1. I KNEW I had heard it rained 6" a few years ago (I wasn't there), but I started to doubt my memory when it seemed to rain cats and dogs all day Sunday and only amounted to 3.8" inches. Hard to imagine that it could rain almost twice as much in one day!