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3 Interior Alaska towns just had their warmest month on record

  • Author: Tegan Hanlon
  • Updated: August 2, 2017
  • Published August 1, 2017

For the Interior Alaska towns of Bettles, Tanana and McGrath, July was the warmest calendar month ever recorded, the National Weather Service reported Tuesday.

Rick Thoman, climate science and services manager for the weather service in Alaska, said the towns didn't record any sort of heat wave or unusually scorching temperatures in July but had persistently warm days and warm nights.

"Almost every day was warm, with no intrusions of cool air from the north," he said. Typically, he said, "the cool days balance out the warm days."

The highlight of July’s climate for Alaska was the persistently warm weather (especially overnight low temperatures)...

Posted by US National Weather Service Alaska on Tuesday, August 1, 2017

For Bettles, that translated to an average temperature of 64.4 degrees this July, compared to the typical 59.7 degrees. In Tanana, the average temperature was 65.8 degrees, compared to the usual 60.4 degrees. In McGrath, it was 63.7 degrees on average, nearly 4 degrees above what's generally expected. Records date back to 1944 in Bettles, 1902 in Tanana and 1940 in McGrath.

At the northernmost point of Alaska, Utqiagvik also had its warmest July in nearly a century of climate observations there, the weather service said, but not its warmest calendar month on record. The average temperature was 46 degrees, about 5 degrees above normal.

"That's a big departure," Thoman said. "We can straightforwardly chalk that up to a very early loss of sea ice this year."

Roughly 200 miles away, the Deadhorse Airport had five July days with highs in the 70s, the weather service said.

"That's very unusual," Thoman said. "The normal (number) is one."

To varying degrees, he said, nearly the entire state, except for Southeast Alaska, was warmer than normal this July.

In Anchorage, the average July temperature hit 60.2 degrees, 1.4 degrees above normal, Thoman said.

"Contrary to what everyone in Anchorage thinks, it was warmer," Thoman said.

While a 1.4-degree difference doesn't sound like a lot, Thoman said given the typically narrow range of summer temperatures in Alaska, it "falls into the significantly above normal category."

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