The coldest summer ever? You might be looking at it, weather folks say.
Right now the so-called summer of '08 is on pace to produce the fewest days ever recorded in which the temperature in Anchorage managed to reach 65 degrees.
That unhappy record was set in 1970, when we only made it to the 65-degree mark, which many Alaskans consider a nice temperature, 16 days out of 365.
This year, however -- with the summer more than half over -- there have been only seven 65-degree days so far. And that's with just a month of potential "balmy" days remaining and the forecast looking gloomy.
National Weather Service meteorologist Sam Albanese, a storm warning coordinator for Alaska, says the outlook is for Anchorage to remain cool and cloudy through the rest of July.
"There's no real warm feature moving in," Albanese said. "And that's just been the pattern we've been stuck in for a couple weeks now."
In the Matanuska Valley on Wednesday snow dusted the Chugach. On the Kenai Peninsula, rain was raising Six-Mile River to flood levels and rafting trips had to be canceled.
So if the cold and drizzle are going to continue anyway, why not shoot for a record? The mark is well within reach, Albanese said:
"It's probably going to go down as the summer with the least number of 65-degree days."
MEASURING THE MISERY
In terms of "coldest summer ever," however, a better measure might be the number of days Anchorage fails to even reach 60.
There too, 2008 is a contender, having so far notched only 35 such days -- far below the summer-long average of 88.
Unless we get 10 more days of 60-degree or warmer temperatures, we're going to break the dismal 1971 record of only 46 such days, a possibility too awful to contemplate.
Still, according to a series of charts cobbled together Tuesday evening by a night-shift meteorologist in the weather service's Anchorage office, the current summer clearly has broken company with the record-setting warmth of recent years. Consider:
70-degree days. So far this summer there have been two. Usually there are 15. Last year there were 21. In 2004 there were 49.
75-degree days. So far this summer there've been zero. Usually there are four. It may be hard to remember, but last year there were 21. In 2004 there were 23.
So are all bets off on global warming? Hardly, scientists say. Climate change is a function of long-term trends, not single summers or individual hurricanes.
Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that it's "unequivocal" the world is warming, considering how 11 of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past 13 years.
So what's going on in Alaska, which also posted a fairly frigid winter?
Federal meteorologists trace a lot of the cool weather to ocean temperatures in the South Pacific.
When the seas off the coast of Peru are 2 to 4 degrees cooler than normal, a La Nina weather pattern develops, which brings cooler-than- normal weather to Alaska.
For most of the past year, La Nina (the opposite of El Nino, in which warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures occur off Peru) has prevailed. But that's now beginning to change.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Web site, water temperatures in the eastern South Pacific began to warm this summer -- and the weather should eventually follow.
The current three-month outlook posted by the national Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md., calls for below-normal temperatures for the south coast of Alaska from August through October -- turning to above-normal temperatures from October through December.
Find George Bryson online at adn.com/contact/gbryson or call 257-4318.