Aug 8, 2017

July Was Record Hot for Parts of Alaska and the West

Barrow, AK
USA
by
Andrea Thompson
,
Climate Central
Monthly records for temperature and precipitation set in July in Alaska. Image: NOAA
Monthly records for temperature and precipitation set in July in Alaska. Image: NOAA

The northernmost city in the United States just had its hottest July on record, as other spots in Alaska had their hottest month overall. Heat records also fell in a few western cities, as well as the fearsomely hot Death Valley, where July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.

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July had four times as many daily record highs as record lows, according to meteorologist Guy Walton, who keeps track of such streaks using NOAA’s data.

The record heat in Alaska fell along the North Slope, which lies above the Arctic Circle, and the central interior of the state.

That early loss of sea ice was followed by storms that pulled up warmer air from the South, pushing the average July temperature in Utqiaġvik (Barrow) to 46°F. While that may not sound like summer weather to the rest of the country, it is 5°F above the long-term average for a city perched at the same latitude as the middle of the Greenland ice sheet.

In the interior of the state, there weren’t any significant heat waves during the month, but there also weren’t any cool days because of a lack of of cloudy, rainy weather, Thoman said. Instead, the month saw “this grinding, day-after-day” warmth.

Bettles, Tanana and McGrath all had not only their warmest July, but also their warmest month on record. The first two towns had average temperatures about 5°F above normal, while McGrath’s was 3.7°F above normal. Fairbanks had its fourth warmest July on record. The state overall had its third warmest July.

The North Slope will continue to be warm for the next few months as the sea ice will be gone until it begins to refreeze in the fall, Thoman said.