The temperature just hit 71 degrees. In Alaska. In March.

Alaska has had plenty of uncharacteristic weather in recent months, but Thursday took it to a new extreme.

The temperature measured at Klawock Airport in Southeast Alaska hit 71 degrees, which University of Alaska Fairbanks climate researcher Brian Brettschneider said is a record high for the state for the month of March, in any year on record.

Before 2016, Alaska temperatures in March hadn't hit the 70-degree mark for any years on record.

Brettschneider said the previous March record-high temperature in Alaska was 69 degrees, recorded in Ketchikan on March 28, 1915.

Rick Thoman, climate science and services manager with National Weather Service Alaska, confirmed the new record, based on preliminary data.

"The fact that it's March -- it's pretty amazing," said Juneau NWS meteorologist Wes Adkins. "It's a big deal."

Thursday's reading follows other record-high temperatures in recent months.


The cause of the new record was a ridge of high pressure in the area, which had been forecast for several days.

"We basically had a June or July air mass move in in March," Brettschneider said. "If we had June or July sun, it would have been 80 degrees, but we didn't."

Other towns across Southeast Alaska saw record-daily-high temperatures Thursday as well. The Haines Airport hit 62 degrees Thursday, compared to a previous March 31 high of 57 in 1926. Sitka hit 57 degrees, compared to a previous high of 54 in 1994.

Alaska's weather recently has been chock full of notable events.

In December, a storm brought temperatures at the North Pole to 50 degrees higher than the normal point for that time of year, The Washington Post reported.

The last two winters have been unseasonably warm, and unusually high temperatures are set to last all the way through May.

The state's first wildfire of the year came in February, south of Delta Junction. It spread partly because of a lack of snow in the area, sparking concerns about the rest of the upcoming fire season.

Anchorage got so little snow this winter that the Alaska Railroad Corp. even sent snow by train from Fairbanks to make sure the state's largest city was prepared for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (though Anchorage didn't end up using it).

Annie Zak

Annie Zak was a business reporter for the ADN between 2015 and 2019.