Sun Finally Sets in Barrow, Alaska

August 2, 2013; 5:15 AM ET
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The residents of Barrow, Alaska, saw something Friday morning that they had not seen since May 10, a sunset.

Ever since 2:54 a.m. on May 11, the sun has been in the sky, keeping the town in continual light. Early Friday at 1:58 a.m. Alaska Standard Time (AKST), the sun fell below the horizon, making it the first official sunset of summer for the town.

The reason that Barrow experiences the periods of continual light is due to their close location to the North Pole. As the Earth revolves on its axis, Barrow is turned toward the sun and remains light until the revolution of the Earth turns Barrow away from the sun.

This summer has been unusually warm across the Last Frontier. So far this summer, temperatures in Barrow and Anchorage have averaged approximately 2.7 degrees above average, while temperatures in Fairbanks have averaged nearly 4 degrees above average.

Although Anchorage has averaged above normal, the city has yet to break any daily temperature records this summer. The persistent warmth has managed to break a different type of record for the city, however.

From July 17 to July 31, Anchorage either reached or climbed above 70 degrees F, a stretch of 15 days. This broke the old record set in 2004 when the city had a stretch of 13 consecutive days of at or above 70.

In Fairbanks, the high soared to 83 degrees on Saturday. The high has reached 80 degrees F or higher for 33 days this summer. That is the most such days in Fairbanks, since record-keeping began in 1904. The average number of days Fairbanks reaches 80 degrees or warmer is 11. Currently, this summer is ranked as the second warmest for the city, falling behind the warm summer of 2004.

This warmer weather has also contributed to development of lightning-producing thunderstorms that ignited of dozens of wildfires burning across Alaska over the past few weeks. According to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, there are currently 73 active wildfires across the state.

National Weather Forecast
Drought-Weakened Trees More Likely to Die in Fires
Alaska Weather Map

This trend in warmer weather will come to an end early this week as a dip in the jet stream will bring the return of more seasonable temperatures across the state.

Story by Meteorologist Brian Lada and Jeff Rafach. Thumbnail courtesy of


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