All-Time Record Temperatures Recorded in Alaska

The temperature at Valdez hit 90 F (about 32 C) today, exceeding the previous all time record by 3 F (1.7 C). Talkeetna, in the interior about 110 miles (175 km) north of Anchorage, set an all-time high temperature record of 96°F (About 35.6 C) on Monday, smashing its previous mark of 91°F set a day earlier, and previously set in June of 1969.

Andrew Freedman at Climate Central has much more on this event, which as of yesterday looked ordinary-weird or loaded-dice weird but is now into extraordinary territory.

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  1. awesome. it was 90 in Alaska for one day. so that proves global warming, even thought the average global temp is the same as sixteen years ago and the arctic ice cap area is the highest in a decade and the Antarctic ice cap is the highest in four decades.

  2. No such claim was made either here or in the referenced article.

    We are living in an anthropically perturbed climate, obviously. Local extreme warm events are part of it, obviously. Dramatic changes in the Arctic are part of it too, obviously.

    This is a relevant event, not proof of anything. Obviously.

    "the arctic ice cap area is the highest in a decade" is rather misleading; see NSIDC. It's obviously the wrong time of year to come to any conclusions about recovery from last year's collapse of perennial ice.

    You guys don't stop, of course.


    But please take it somewhere else. It's not "moving the conversation forward" to dwell on stuff that was long ago put to bed.

  3. The North Slope is a specific region of Alaska, the area minutely larger than Great Brittan twix the Brooks Range and the Arctic Ocean. Barrow, one of about a 6-8 coastal sites reporting weather data on the slope, representative and as far as I’m willing to look things up, has been above climatic norm for most of this month. (Umiat, about 60 miles south of Prudhoe Bay and 200 miles southeast of Barrow has intermittent records from the later 40s to the turn of the century showing a 92 ºF reading on July 14, 1993 and many daily record highs in the upper 80’s.) The Barrow high on the 13th of this month was 26 ºF above norm, at 66 ºF just missing setting a date high. No other day this month (through the 18th) has Barrow reached more that 56. So far, the High, Avg, and Lo values have been 6.0, 4.2, and 2.7 ºF over norms and since the 10th of the month, 10.9, 7.4, and 4.3 higher.

    The places experiencing this heat wave, and the coastal ones especially with record highs on the 17th, are striking. Particularly so as the area had a very lengthy cold spell - as in record breaking on a monthly basis but never really close to setting a record daily low - lasting from the second week of March to the last week of May with high temps only making it above norms on 11 of 73 days and lows on only 7 in Los Anchorage. From late May till today, the 18th, 4 of 26 days have failed to exceed both high and low norms with the daily averages failing to exceed normal by only 1-2 ºF on those dates.

    Michael, you need to loose the straw hat and cover with the “national igloo” thinking cap when writing head lines. Though size envy is chronic among Texicans when contemplating Alaska, there’s 400+ miles and 2 mountain ranges each over a mile tall (not just altitude high, but piles of rock tall) between the Arctic and North Pacific climates.

  4. The whole of Alaska is involved in the heat wave, yes, but an unheard of milestone has been reached on the North Slope, which was why my choice.

    Weather is not news for this site unless it is extremely extraordinary. This case qualifies.

  5. Michael, you seem to have missed a specific complaint. Some places in AK hit 90F. Most of the state, including the North Slope, was warm to hot. But your headline says 90F on the North Slope. Without specifics, that looks wrong. North Slope means north of the Brooks range.

  6. I've been watching the Alaskan heat with some apprehension as so many aspects of weather weirding are coming out as predicted, rather on the high end. I like Andrew Freedman's take on these kinds of situations. Neven has cited several posting about the persistent Arctic cyclone and its relationship to circulation collapse, embodied here:

    (FishOutofWater does an excellent job of putting all the pieces together.)

    I appreciated this article which puts it in context with recent cold as well.

    I agree that the weather climate complication has made us all reluctant to mention the undoubted fact that climate is made up of weather over time and space (Heidi Cullen). I should not have to mention that space is earth and its atmosphere and the time decades in this context. It requires an ability to both walk and chew gum.

  7. Continuing on the weather/climate front, news includes a few more events today. I've been collecting these since the mid-oughts, and while that's not three decades, it represents a significant change. So does this, over time, though you shouldn't read too much into the daily there is a significant increase in chaos and it also shows the overall increase in water vapor. There are other version that cover other parts of the globe. You might also look at how the jet stream demonstrates what science describes as it becomes sluggish, huge, and broken.

    Anyway, New Delhi with 600 deaths and counting, Canada in a mess, Singapore area haze, west north Canada was in 80s and 90s. That's very close to the Arctic and will contribute to rapid melt, along with increased water vapor again.

  8. Not IR, water vapor. They demonstrate changing patterns in global circulation, the closest visual aid to show how weather becomes climate imnhso: increased water vapor, increased energy, and changes in the way the jet stream is acting (I'm repeating myself). They are changing rapidly in real time overall: I'm not talking about day to day variation, though that's sufficiently startling. This more closely describes my interest than anything else going.

    These animations grab laypeople by the eyeballs and get them thinking.

    As to ice melt, this from Barrow; try three-day animation. I wasn't even thinking of rivers. I was, however, thinking about rapid disappearance of thin broken swathes of the polar icecap.

  9. Water vapor is detected via the infrared channel. Satellites is a future topic brewing for us here.

    It's good to get people thinking about the general circulation, but one loop is as good as another for that purpose.

    Really you'd have to look at these for decades to get any remotely reliable sense of non-cyclic climate change. We have to be careful about trusting our intuitions; we are the blind men examining the elephant. There is too much reliance on intuition on all sides in the climate question!

  10. Well, this is disappointing ...

    I agree that water vapor animations come in a variety the choice of this one was arbitrary; I look at a variety of them every day. I think you are wrong again about my observation and objectivity, and also about the rate of change. You might also be wrong about the utility of regular observation of water vapor maps for other people. (It's been four years: what we are seeing now bears no resemblance to the ordered system in place at the beginning of that period.) I am well aware that it takes a while for the daily local incidents to take a back seat to the overall patterns, and requires an ability to walk and chew gum at the same time. It seemed appropriate in a discussion of weather and climate.

    I get regular advice and critiques from a skilled meteorologist, so I'm not flying blind.

    I am disappointed that you cannot see what I see here. As I remarked once before, I am a trained observer, and my understanding and objectivity might be useful if they were not dismissed out of hand.

    I seem to remember you remarking that you are not convinced by Jennifer Francis's work. I think that is a mistake as well. The jet stream has gone haywire, and Andrew Freedman is a good aggregator of the news as it develops, but he does not produce the research.

    However, that's enough argument from someone who is, after all, only a guest here.

  11. If you can be specific about what you are seeing we can construct a formal test to see if it is happening as you perceive it.

    Wikipedia has "Since 2007, and particularly in 2012 and early 2013, the jet stream has been at an abnormally low latitude across the UK, lying closer to the English Channel, around 50°N rather than its more usual north of Scotland latitude of around 60°N. However, between 1979 and 2001, it has been found that the average position of the jet stream has been moving northward at a rate of 2.01 kilometres (1.25 mi) per year across the Northern Hemisphere. Across North America, this type of change could lead to drier conditions across the southern tier of the United States and more frequent and more intense tropical cyclones in the tropics. A similar slow poleward drift was found when studying the Southern Hemisphere jet stream over the same time frame."

    You will admit that "moving northward at a rate of 2.01 kilometres (1.25 mi) per year" is unspectacular and cannot conceivably be visible in global plots. The persistent high pressure anomaly over Greenland is of interest.

    I'm not saying there is nothing happening; Ostro is a keen observer of the atmosphere, ...

  12. btw, I kind of knew WV was an based on IR, but I still think of them are different, with WV being more general. I'm not sure how much of a projection as opposed to actual observation it is.

    Great link, I saw that at the time, and Stu Ostro did an amazing job there. I looked at all (was it 1027) slides! when they came out. That is another example of a short-time-frame exposition that demonstrates clearly how much change we are seeing.

    For Ostro and Francis, the explanation for what we're seeing is simple. More heat in the Earth's system due to global warming is felt everywhere, and that includes the massive-scale patterns of atmospheric circulation that give us our weather.

    Ostro's observations suggest that global warming is increasing the atmosphere's thickness, leading to stronger and more persistent ridges of high pressure, which in turn are a key to temperature, rainfall, and snowfall extremes and topsy-turvy weather patterns like we've had in recent years.

    Francis's scientific story is complementary. She sees the rapid warming of the Arctic weakening the northern hemisphere jet stream, and thus, once again, slowing down the weather, leaving a given pattern stuck in place for longer (making any event potentially more disruptive and extreme).

    I'm pressed for time, but will think about other links. Jennifer Francis has been producing a variety of presentations, and I tend to prefer the short ones, but in the interests of science perhaps the long one at the AGU might be better.

    I cannot export the contents of my memory, but I can assure you that the vapor animations are nothing like they were four years ago. They are wild and disoriented, and the regular circulation is broken. You could start by taking a daily look yourself (it does take a while to see past the narrow focus), but they are now so chaotic and broken that it's hard to imagine what they will look like when they get worse. One thing to look for is when there is a stream of energy that goes directly north almost all the way from the equator to the far north. That didn't used to be common and the results have been recorded regularly at Neven's.

  13. The heat moved over to the Northwest Territories (88 observed late last night) and is finally back to normal. (This is not connected to my other recent comments.) Though I see an 81 on the southern boundary.

    This is interesting:

    At first glance, it’s just a great photo of nearly the entire state of Alaska on an exceptionally clear day. What could be the problem?

    Well, turns out that photo shows an anomaly that some are fretting signifies yet another big shift in global climate – a shift toward the hot.

    NASA writes (without saying “global warming”):

    “The same ridge of high pressure that cleared Alaska's skies also brought stifling temperatures to many areas accustomed to chilly June days. Talkeetna, a town about 100 miles north of Anchorage, saw temperatures reach 96°F on June 17. Other towns in southern Alaska set all-time record highs, including Cordova, Valez, and Seward. The high temperatures also helped fuel wildfires and hastened the breakup of sea ice in the Chukchi Sea.”

    Some of this brings up the vexed question of weather and climate in another way. The practical effect of local heat over the short term does affect the bigger picture. I remember noticing that in early spring the weather forecast often understates the effect of the sun's actual warmth in the present as it gets higher in the sky.

  14. Pingback: Another Week of GW News, June 23, 2013 – A Few Things Ill Considered

  15. Michael,

    I remember extremely cold weather in Columbus, Ohio in January of 1977 when I was living there. The average miminum temperature was 3.4 degrees. See At the same time, Alaska had warm temperatures. Can't find equivalent records for Anchorage as I have for Columbus, but according to the Farmers Almanac Alaska was warm in January of 1977. For example on 1/24/77 the high in Anchorage was 49 degrees and the low was 30 degrees. This link will show you the temperatures individually. The rest of the month is also warm, but not quite that warm. From Jan. 22 through the end of the month, the average low temperature was roughly 30 degrees.

    Since January of 77 when it has been cold in the Midwest, I have checked Alaskan temperatures and invariably when it is unusually cold in the Midwest it is warm in Alaska.

    Did a quick Google search of this subject, and came up with this headline and statement: "Record Warmth in Eastern U.S.; Temps Tumble in Alaska" ---
    While Alaska continues to to suffer from record cold and snow, much of the rest of the country continues to experience a year without winter.... See

    While it has been recently warm in Alaska, it has been recently cool in the Midwest. I doubt that the temperatures you referenced are significant evidence of systemic change. Rather there appears to be a weather pattern where Alaska has the opposite weather of the Midwest and the East of the U.S.

  16. The pattern that anomalously cool places are downwind of anomalously hot places is normal; this is what we mean by "blocking" or stationary waves in the jet stream. This bend in the jet draws warm air poleward and cool air southward without greatly affecting the global mean temperature.

    The warm snap in Alaska is extreme but not unprecedented. However, we have seen unprecedented events of exactly this sort recently - the warm spring in the midwest last year may come to mind for you, though you were a bit east of the bullseye. The question is to what extent we are seeing extreme events and unprecedented events more than would be expected in a natural climate. The evidence is piling up that this particular type of extreme event is becoming more common.

    There are reasons to connect this to artificial climate disruption other than circumstantial, though the science is still in flux on this question. It must be admitted that this impact was not predicted in advance, which means that explanations are "post hoc" and thus have to meet a high standard to pass as scientifically reliable. On the other hand, human activity is the main disruptor of climate physics so the connection of anything very unusual to human activity is circumstantially very strong, even if the mechanisms are unknown.

  17. It is interesting that when one notices exceptional cold in the midwest and/or northern Europe (and I think mid-Siberia), one can often look further north and see exceptional warmth. Sort of saying the same thing in a different way, but as heat pours from the equator to the poles, it breaks up the Arctic circulation which results in the cold spilling out to mid-northern latitudes.

    Sloppy as usual, no doubt: corrections welcome.

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