Summertime in Alaska, it’s 90 Above

Anchorage had record high temperatures yesterday.

It was hotter than the Fourth of July in Anchorage yesterday. CNN reports,

Alaska’s heat wave continued through Independence Day, and in Anchorage, the temperatures shattered an all-time record.

The temperature at the airport was 90 degrees Thursday, besting June 14, 1969, for the highest mark ever recorded in the city, according to the National Weather Service.

Across south Alaska, the mercury was expected to rise to record or near-record levels on the nation’s 243rd birthday and continue at above-average levels through next week, the National Weather Service reports.
Last month was the warmest June on record, with an average temperature of 60.5 degrees — 5.3 above average, according to the National Weather Service Anchorage, whose records for this location date to 1954 (66 total Junes). June marks the 16th consecutive month in which average temperatures ranged above normal.

“All 30 days in June had above average temperatures,” the service noted.
Meanwhile, a large upper-level high pressure system is building over Alaska and will draw warm air from the south and blow winds offshore — in the opposite direction of “sea breezes,” which bring cooler air from over the ocean to the land, the Weather Service predicts.

— “Anchorage was 90 degrees on July 4. That’s not a typo”

AccuWeather adds,

Anchorage, Alaska, saw the mercury soar to 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday shattering the city’s all-time record-high temperature by 5 degrees. The previous record of 85 F was set in 1969. It also shattered the daily record of 77 F for July 4, which had stood since 1999. Records in Anchorage date back to 1952.

Several other places in Alaska set all-time or daily records on Thursday.

While it was well above normal in Anchorage, the 90-degree temperature is not a first for the state of Alaska. According to records kept by the National Weather Service (NWS), Alaska is no stranger to the 90s. In fact, way back on July 28, 1919, Fairbanks made a run at 100 when the mercury topped out at 99. Fairbanks has experienced 90-degree heat on several other occasions, most recently on August 5, 1994, when it recorded a 93-degree temperature.

Other spots in Alaska have hit the 90s too, including McGrath, which saw a 94-degree temperature as recently as June 17, 2013. Alaska has seen triple-digit heat at least once since record keeping began: In 1915, Fort Yukon, which is situated in central eastern Alaska, recorded a temperature of 100 degrees.

And the sizzling temps will remain in the coming days. The heat dome that has set up across the far southern part of the state and brought the unseasonably warm temps to Anchorage will surge northward into next week. Temperatures will take a run at 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher across several locations across Alaska into next week, threatening to shatter many daily record highs while some locations may topple all-time records.

“A strong area of high pressure has been nearly stationary and baking portions of southern Alaska recently, and it will gradually expand northward through this weekend and into next week,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said.

—“Anchorage shatters all-time high temperature record as Alaska swelters under heat dome”

People on Twitter and elsewhere are touting this as more evidence of global climate change. That’s as silly as denialists who Tweet out “Hardyhar it’s cold out today, where’s my global warming?” Weather and climate aren’t the same thing.

A single “heat dome” phenomenon doesn’t tell us anything useful about the climate. Nor does a single record temperature. Let alone when records only date back to when the leading contenders for the Presidency were in college.

Now, I’m confident that climate change is happening, that the earth is generally getting warmer, and that mankind is a significant contributor to the phenomenon. But that’s because that’s the overwhelming consensus among scientists who study such things for a living, not because of a single, anomalous weather event.

FILED UNDER: Global Climate Change, Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Of course, the thing about climate change is that those single anomalous weather events are, according to those same scientists, likely to become more common.

    Yesterday I posted an article on my Facebook page an article about how June was yet another month in which global temperatures set a record. The first comment, naturally, was from someone pointing out that June was a cooler than average month in the American Midwest. This confusion of climate and weather is all too common.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yup. But, yes, if average temperatures are rising, we’re certainly likely to see more record highs. But, for reasons I admit to not fully understanding, we’re also going to see weirdly low temperatures in spots as well.

  3. @James Joyner:

    I can’t say I understand the science either but yea I’ve read the same thing. It does make sense in connection with the idea that rising global temperatures mean that we’re also like to see more weather extremes, which can exist on both sides of the “hot” and “cold” spectrum.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Yes it’s weather, but pick just about any location on the globe and hotter weather (relative to the location norm) is becoming more common there.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Some of the models predict a much wetter Ozarks, which makes sense considering our prevailing weather comes out of the gulf (will those patterns hold is the $64 dollar question) This years rains are almost enough to convince me it’s happening now. I don’t think we’ve been able to string together 3 rain free days more than once or twice since March and 2 rain free days is about all I expect just now.

  6. mike shupp says:

    You can tell the true-blue Republicans in Alaska, I’m sure. They’ll be the folks walking about in galoshes and fur-lined overcoats and ear muffs, swinging their arms across their chests, slapping at their sides in unison, and loudly beseeching the Lord to make them warmer. No doubt they’ll be obliged, in time, for a very long time.

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  7. Teve says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The first comment, naturally, was from someone pointing out that June was a cooler than average month in the American Midwest.

    The states in the American Midwest comprise 22% of the total area of the United States, and the total US area is about 1.86% of the Earth’s surface. So what’s going on in the Midwest reflects the temperature on 1/250th of the globe.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mike shupp: Can Republicans be true blue? I always thought they were raging red.

  9. Kathy says:

    You can talk about climate when averages over many years trend higher.

    And, yes, warming can result in lower temperatures. The infamous polar vortex, for example, moves off the north pole in a warmer planet due to the effects of temperature on the jet stream and other systems (I’m sure there are better explanations available).

    Or the Chinese are really thorough with their hoaxes.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy:

    You can talk about climate when averages over many years trend higher.

    They are. The data behind each of those graphs is imperfect and so are the graphs, but the trendlines all go in one direction.

  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Yeah, but I don’t understand how they manipulate currency rates with the global warming hoax. Inscrutable. Bad. Dangerous.

  12. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I’m sorry. I know they are trending upward, I didn’t mean to give the impression they weren’t yet. My bad.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: No biggie.

  14. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @James Joyner:

    But, for reasons I admit to not fully understanding, we’re also going to see weirdly low temperatures in spots as well.

    The circulation we have become accustomed to around the North Pole, with its alternating warm fronts and cold fronts, is breaking down. So the jet stream stalls in one position, leaving one area unusually warm and another unusually cold. That’s been particularly obvious in the last two winters.

    I don’t see a cold side to the dome over Alaska, but I haven’t looked at all the circumpolar weather. It should be over eastern Canada, with unusual heat in Europe.

    For other weather events, the climatologists have done analyses and said yes, this particular event comes from global warming. It’s getting that obvious.

    But the pattern breakdown means that yep, these extremes of hot and cold, stuck over one part of the globe are indeed results of global warming, in particular the melting of Arctic ice.

  15. Jen says:

    @James Joyner: @Doug Mataconis:

    I am not a scientist, but someone far smarter than I explained that it might have something to do with the warming arctic and the jet stream. When there’s lots of ice and it’s cold, the jet stream stays “tight” and predictable. When the ice melts and it gets warmer, the jet stream starts to wander all over the place. This piece on NPR gets at that.

    This piece was from 2014 and I’m sure there’s more updated science somewhere out there, but that’s about the extent of my understanding.

  16. mike shupp says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    This is the Age of Trump! Republicans can be all things, at least to each other and on alternate days.

  17. Kit says:

    People on Twitter and elsewhere are touting this as more evidence of global climate change. That’s as silly as denialists who Tweet out “Hardyhar it’s cold out today, where’s my global warming?” Weather and climate aren’t the same thing.

    Evidence is precisely what this is: i.e. yet another datum in the growing body of facts supporting the proposition that the climate is indeed growing warmer. What this single event does not constitute on its own is proof.

    Climate-change denialists (of which you are certainly not one, James) use this sort of reasoning in a way similar to those lawyers who proved, ahem, that Rodney King was not beaten by police because not a single frame of that video showed a beating. And if no single frame could show it, then just when did the beating occur?

    Additionally, there’s no reason to worry about our now-annual once-in-a-century storms because we expect these things to happen in a world without climate change. So those storms aren’t evidence, either.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kit: In the past 6 years we’ve had 3 *100 year* flood events. One was so bad we were all but cut off from STL (a 1 hr commute became 4-6 hrs).

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @Kit: How bad will the weather have to get before you admit that global warming is occurring?

    And at that point, what are you going to be able to do about it? Do you have some magic technology that will suddenly make everything better?

  20. Kit says:

    @grumpy realist: Is this a question directed at me?! [insert wide-eyed emoji]

  21. Tyrell says:

    First week of July has brought high heat. But it is the humidity that gets you, and the heavy, dead air. But this is typical summer weather around here: hot, humid, and dry all at the same time. Any sort of outside work and you lose lots of fluid. I learned the hard way one summer not to drink ice cold water. That will knock you out flat.
    The theme park the other day was an oven. When the built that place they evidently forgot shade trees. After parking in a heat shimmering parking lot, I walked a mile to the gate. The water fountains seem to be hidden. And then you get lukewarm water. You can get cold water and ice in the food joints. A soft drink is $4 or more. How can that be legal? Then you get on these rides that rearrange your internal parts and squeeze your brain (0ne ride was 4g). More like astronaut training. The swimming pool was a warm bath. And I paid a good bit of money to get into that place.

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  22. grumpy realist says:

    @Kit: Ah, sorry, had the irony detector turned off….Have been dealing with several individuals who would actually seriously pose that argument.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    When there is an extreme weather event, there is a legitimate question as to whether it was due to AGW. A question we seem to be discussing with increasing frequency.

  24. MarkedMan says:

    Right now many of the people who identify as “Conservative” have switched tactics. Rather than deny the reality of increased flooding, more tornadoes and hurricanes and deadlier winter ice storms and summer heat waves, they accept it For their local area only but continue to deny it has anything to do with global climate change. So basically they are demanding we put Republicans in office to deal with the effects, rather than the rational and realistic people have been saying for decades and doing everything in their power to avert the problems in the first place. And by the way, these Republicans will still continue to demonize and defund the scientists and environmentalists they so despise.

  25. Robert says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    https://climatereanalyzer.org/wx/DailySummary/#t2anom
    Click on the globe to get different views — this is the over/under the normal average for this day of year

  26. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan:

    So basically they are demanding we put Republicans in office to deal with the effects, rather than the rational and realistic people have been saying for decades and doing everything in their power to avert the problems in the first place.

    I think this could be said for about 90% or more of the issues that they fuss about, from immigration to unintended pregnancies/abortion. Solving the underlying problems isn’t a conservative principle anymore, if it ever was.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Robert: Very cool site. Thanks