90-degree heat stifles Anchorage for first time in its history as sweltering heat wave grips Alaska
By Brett Rathbun, AccuWeather meteorologist
July 08, 2019, 8:13:47 AM EDT
For the latest on the Alaska heat, and a look at when relief will arrive, click here.
The temperature in Anchorage, Alaska, soared to 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday, shattering the city's all-time record-high temperature by 5 degrees. The previous record of 85 degrees Fahrenheit was set in 1969. It also shattered the daily record of 77 degrees for the Fouth of July, which had stood since 1999. Records in Anchorage date back to 1952.
Several other places in Alaska set all-time or daily records on Thursday.
While it was well above normal in Anchorage, the 90-degree temperature is not a first for the state of Alaska.
According to records kept by the National Weather Service (NWS), Alaska is no stranger to the 90s. In fact, way back on July 28, 1919, Fairbanks made a run at 100 when the mercury topped out at 99. Fairbanks has experienced 90-degree heat on several other occasions, most recently on Aug. 5, 1994, when it recorded a 93-degree temperature.
Other spots in Alaska have hit the 90s too, including McGrath, which had a 94-degree temperature as recently as June 17, 2013. Alaska has seen triple-digit heat at least once since record keeping began: In 1915, Fort Yukon, which is situated in central eastern Alaska, recorded a temperature of 100 degrees.
And the sizzling temperatures will remain in the coming days. The heat dome that has set up across the far southern part of the state and brought the unseasonably warm conditions to Anchorage will surge northward into midweek.
Temperatures will take a run at 90 degrees or higher across several locations across Alaska, threatening to shatter many daily record highs while some locations may topple all-time records.
"A strong area of high pressure has been nearly stationary and baking portions of southern Alaska recently, and it will gradually expand northward into midweek," AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said.
Highs will average 10 to 20 degrees above normal for this time of the year.
The normal high temperature in Anchorage during early July is 65 degrees. Temperatures will continue to approach or crack 80 degrees through at least Monday.
"Saturday marked the fourth straight day of Anchorage setting a daily record high, and records will continue to be challenged through Monday," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.
As of Saturday, temperatures have reached or exceeded 80 degrees on six occasions in Anchorage this year. That is a record, according to Climatologist Brian Brettschneider.
Today"s 84F tied for the warmest day on record at the Portage Glacier Visitor's Center (only 22 years of data). Not surprisingly, record warm temps are bad for glaciers. pic.twitter.com/HaCWY8JEP8— Brian Brettschneider (@Climatologist49) July 7, 2019
"Smoke from wildfires to the north has filtered in Fairbanks," Pydynowski said. "While that should hold temperatures below records early this weekend, residents are dealing with worsening air quality."
Bethel will not only break daily record highs early this week, but the all-time record of 88 degrees will be challenged.
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"Anybody spending prolonged periods of time outdoors should be sure to drink plenty of fluids in order to stay properly hydrated," AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Elliott said.
Generally, rain-free days will be in store across the state. This will increase the threat for wildfires and also lead to poor air quality.
This is normally the warmest time of the year across Alaska as normal temperatures begin to decline by the middle of the month. While heat of this magnitude is common across the central parts of the state, it is not too common for it to become this warm along coastal locations. Warmer ocean temperatures off the coast have likely aided in this record heat.
While winds will remain generally light, firefighters battling the Swan Lake Fire in the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage, will continue to battle hot and dry conditions this week.
A dense smoke advisory will remain in effect for the western half of the Kenai Peninsula through Monday morning.
Some people in an around Anchorage posted on Twitter to say that wildfire smoke wafted into town along with the high temperatures, and forced people to shut their windows. This in turn caused temperatures inside homes to rise.
Four other fires are ongoing across central Alaska, outside of Fairbanks, according to Inciweb.
"With vegetation continuing to dry out through the weekend, campers and hikers should be sure to thoroughly extinguish fires and cigarette butts to minimize the risk of sparking a wildfire," Elliott said.
The area of high pressure will lose some of its intensity toward the end of the week as it shifts over the Bering Sea. Temperatures will be trimmed back to more seasonable levels around Anchorage at midweek. Fairbanks and more of eastern Alaska will follow later in the week.
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