Shocking warmth for Alaska: Record high temperatures even in towns north of the Arctic Circle

Temperature oddity in Alaska!  Alaska set numerous record high temperatures in the past couple of weeks, even in towns north of the Arctic Circle.

In extreme northern Alaska, shocking warmth soared as high as 47 degrees in Barrow, which is unseasonably warm for this time of year.

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NASA Earth Observatory

The following image – Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite – shows the surface temperature data from May 17-24.

Above-average temperatures are shown in red, while the pattern change was evident in the West, where temperatures dropped below average.

The 47-degree high on May 21 was Barrow’s warmest temperature on record so early in the calendar year. The previous earliest date the temperature reached 47 degrees in Barrow was May 23, 1996.

Barrow wasn’t alone setting weird temperature records! Fairbanks soared to 86 degrees on May, breaking the old daily record by 6 degrees. Eagle has seen temperatures soar as high as 91 degrees and stayed above 80 degrees for nine consecutive days. Anchorage clinched its least snowy season on record. Only 25.1 inches of snow fell in the city, beating its prior least snowy season – 30.4 inches – set in 1957-58. Finally, Juneau has also soared into the low 70s eight of the past ten days through Friday, a good 15 degrees warmer than average.

Here’s how the rest of the world looked while Alaska (and western Canada) baked:

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NASA Earth Observatory

Why Did This Happen?

Interestingly, Alaska’s recent warmth can be traced to a pair of earlier super typhoons – Noul and Dolphin. The ex-typhoons created high-latitude wave breaking, creating a pronounced northward diversion of the jet stream over the eastern two-thirds of Alaska and northwest Canada.

So far, the heat hasn’t had much of a negative impact on drought conditions for Alaska. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, none of the state is in any level of drought, but one-fourth of the state is abnormally dry.

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