July ends as warmest on record for Alaska
July closed out as the warmest month on record for both Anchorage and the entire state of Alaska. The record-setting warmth that started the month helped solidify July in the record books. The handful of days with near-normal temperatures weren’t enough to drop the average temperature to near normal.
Anchorage began the month with a record-setting heat wave. An omega blocking pattern set up a heat dome over much of Southcentral Alaska.
Sunny, dry days helped temperatures climb. Anchorage set record-high temperatures for six consecutive days and an all-time record high temperature of 90 degrees on the Fourth of July.
But Alaska’s largest city wasn’t alone. Many places broke records to start the month. Some set new all-time record-high temperatures as well.
Most 70 Degree Days
The thermometer eclipsed 70 degrees in Anchorage more than any other month in recorded history. In 20 days during the month the high temperature reached 70 degrees or warmer.
That surpasses the two previous times — in 1977 and 2013 — when there were 19 days of 70 degrees or more during the month of July.
July is typically the warmest month of the year. On average, the month typically sees just 7 days of over-70 degree warmth.
The mean, or average, temperature over an entire month is a good way to get a sense of an overall trend. The average temperature of each day is calculated using the high and low temperatures. Then that is averaged out over the entire month.
Anchorage’s normal average low for the month of July is 52.2 degrees with a normal average daytime high of 65.4 degrees. That averages out to a comfortable 58.8 degrees.
July 2019 was warm. So warm that the average temperature for the month, including the high and the low, was close to what the high should be for the month.
The average temperature was 65.3 degrees. That makes it the warmest month on record by almost 3 degrees.
Through the entire month of July, not a single location in the state saw temperatures drop below freezing. That is more than a month straight of temperatures at or above 32 degrees. The previous record stretch for that was just 11 days.
That is just one part of a much bigger picture. Hot, dry days contributed to an active wildfire season. Many locations, inundated by smoke, were affected by poor air quality around the state.
Melting ice caused many rivers to reach flood stage. Ground and water exposed by melted ice absorbed more heat from the sun, keeping temperatures above normal.
Excess heat even melted sea ice at unprecedented rates.
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