Anchorage officially saw the hottest and driest summer on record
No doubt it was a summer to remember for Southcentral Alaska. Numerous records were shattered, an extreme drought led to intense wildfires and thermometers climbed to the highest temperature ever recorded in Anchorage.
High pressure gripped a large portion of the region through the summer which propelled the summer of 2019 to become the warmest on record.
With the meteorological summer officially over, data shows just how warm the season was. The average temperature of 62.8 degrees was 2 degrees warmer than the previous warmest summer in 2016. It's a trend that has been ongoing since the turn of the century, with 7 of the top 10 occurring since 2000. Not only did we experience the warmest summer on record for Anchorage, but there wasn't a single day during the season where the average temperature was below normal.
The high pressure also led to a capping inversion in the atmosphere that prevented wildfire smoke from dissipating, because of this many across Southcentral saw several consecutive days of poor air quality. Anchorage itself saw 30 days throughout the summer where smoke was not only reported but led to air quality in the moderate to unhealthy range. Some days were so bad that after-school activities were canceled.
This summer wasn't just the warmest on record, but it also was extremely dry across the region.
As high pressure remained stationary across the region, many storms either eroded due to the strength of the high pressure or were forced to go around the ridge. Due to this, many areas remained largely rain-free through the summer.
If it wasn't for the wettest May on record for Anchorage, the drought situation would even be more intense for Southcentral. Just 0.90 inches of rain fell in Anchorage, which not only set a new record but followed the summer trend of shattering previous records.
August which is typically the wettest month on record for Anchorage only saw 0.04 inches of rain, with all of that occurring during the last few days of the month.
While a pattern change has caused rain to return back to Southcentral, it will take several consecutive storms to not only dig us out of the drought but bring up our rainfall deficit. Thankfully, the current trend suggests that we'll see just that over the coming weeks. Although that will be the case, the summer of 2019 will go down as a historic summer for Anchorage, Southcentral and a large portion of the state as we continue to see warming temperatures.
Our warmest days are behind us, as meteorological summer officially comes to a close. However, it's no doubt that the summer of 2019 will etch itself in history for Anchorage and a large portion of the state. Thankfully, as we begin meteorological fall we'll see our average temperature drop several degrees, from 60 degrees on September 1 to 49 degrees by the end of the months.
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