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For Anchorage residents, summer could be chilly, rainy

Andrew Halcro

On Tuesday, the high temperature for Anchorage checked in at 49 degrees -- 13 degrees lower than the normal high for this time. After a long, harsh winter, where we broke records for snowfall and cold, are we about to get cheated out of a much-deserved summer?

The weather data to date says we just might.

The comparative data from the National Weather Service shows it’s been cooler and wetter, but those numbers have to be qualified. This summer we've experienced the coolest beginning to a summer since 1998.

However, one could argue that over the last decade we've been spoiled by a number of warmer than usual summers.

“Another thing that might be making it seem a lot cooler then it is compared to normal is that early summers have been on the warm side,” wrote Gene Petrescu of the National Weather Service in an email to AndrewHalcro.com. “A majority of years since 1998 have been on the warm side.”

According to Weather Service figures, average temperatures June 1-11 have been almost 2 degrees cooler than normal during the same time frame, with an average of 57.6 degrees. The maximum temperature is also running two degrees below, at 59.5 degrees.

“Perhaps most notably is that we have not had any warmer days above 65F, while in most years there are four by this date” wrote Petrescu.

Constant cloud cover due to tremendous low-pressure systems, which have hampered a lack of consecutive sunny days, has also marked the late start to summer. And while it seems the rain has been endless for the last month, historical data shows during the same time frame the amount of precipitation has been pretty close to normal.

Head south if you’re cold

So what does this mean for Alaskans seeking a much-needed fix of vitamin D and some warm temperatures to thaw out after a long winter?

It means you better start looking for reservations to Hawaii, Mexico or any other warm climate for a reprieve.

But aside from the strictly climate oriented figures, the summer has probably been hardest on local television meteorologists like KTUU’s weather guru Jackie Purcell. One could view her job similar to that of the American president's: When things are great, she receives none of the credit. But when things are bad she takes all of the blame.

"People on the street are asking me 'are we ever going to get some summer?'" Purcell told AndrewHalcro.com. "Mostly it is people lamenting about the lack of sun and the cool temperatures."

Some of the funniest comments have appeared on her KTUU Facebook page. “Hey I found summer, it’s in Oregon,” one follower posted. 

The cooler temperatures and lack of sun has been depressing for many because of the long winter. January was especially tough, said Purcell, as the average temperature was just above zero, with the coldest day of the winter checking in on Jan. 29 when it dropped to minus-13.

But hope springs eternal

According to Purcell, historically "late June is when high temperature records are broken." This means we still could enjoy a decent summer, but there are only two more weeks of June, and the window is closing quickly.

As Sinatra sang, "If there’s nothing shaking come this July, I’m going to roll myself up in a ball and die…my...my…”

Andrew Halcro is the publisher of AndrewHalcro.com, a blog devoted to Alaska issues and politics, where this commentary first appeared. He is president of Halcro Strategies and Avis/Alaska Rent-A-Car, his family business. Halcro served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1999 to 2003, and he ran for governor in 2006 as an Independent.