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It is the coldest July on record, so far

It's not in your head: The National Weather Service says that so far this is the coldest July on record in Anchorage.

The average temperature for the first 12 days of this month -- typically the warmest of the year -- was just 52.7 degrees.

That's more than a degree cooler than the second-coldest first half of July, in 1956, when the average temperature was 53.8 degrees, said NWS meteorologist Bob Hopkins.

On Thursday, it was actually warmer in Barrow (62 degrees) than Anchorage (54), according to NWS readings.

The chill makes for frustrated tomato growers and bundled-up beachgoers.

Lori Jones, 19, may have been one of the most warmly dressed beach lifeguards in the nation Friday.

Staffing the lifeguard post at the Goose Lake Park beach, she wore three layers: a T-shirt, a pullover and a lifeguard jacket issued by the city.

"Sometimes when it's really windy we have a blanket up there with us too," she said, motioning to the lifeguard chair.

The lake was empty of boaters or swimmers. A handful of kids wearing coats played up the beach. A few stalwarts show up on overcast, 52-degree days, Jones said. But not many.

"There's no one really here," she said.

A few miles away, Saskia Esslinger's artichokes are stunted and puny.

For Esslinger, who owns a garden design business with her husband and grows much of her food at her urban farmstead in the U-Med neighborhood, a cold July has wreaked havoc on some of her warm-weather crops.

The tomatoes, always tough to grow in Anchorage, are not happening. Beans and squash are faring poorly as well.

At this time last year, based on harvest records she keeps, Esslinger and her husband were harvesting broccoli and garlic.

"A lot of stuff is just further behind this year," she said.

Esslinger had adopted a Zen attitude toward her struggling crops and the weather, essential for urban farming in Alaska.

"It's going to do what it's going to do," she said. "There's no use complaining, because it doesn't help."

If this cool, overcast weather goes on, the whole month of July could end up being among the coldest since records were first kept in 1917, Hopkins said. But a few warm days, like Anchorage saw in June, could throw off that average.

The reasons for the cooler weather are complex, he said, but scientists believe a cycle of cooler ocean temperatures beget cooler air temperatures for Anchorage, where a maritime influence from Cook Inlet tends to regulate extremes anyway.

Some people -- like those in the lately-sweltering Midwest -- might actually be jealous of our weather, he said.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at mtheriault@adn.com or 257-4344.


Anchorage Daily News