Publication Date July 14, 2016

Two Flavors of Record Heat: Deadhorse and Houston

United States
Temperature anomalies (departures from normal) for Thursday, July 15, 2016, as extrapolated from the 00Z Thursday GFS model output. Image: Climate Reanalyzer/University of Maine

A pulse of warm air invaded the North Slope of northern Alaska on Wednesday, bringing some of the warmest air ever recorded there. Even with the 24-hour sunlight it receives during most of July, the North Slope typically experiences highs only in the 50s and lows in the 30s. Much warmer air can filter into the region on occasion, though, typically as a mild air mass sweeps in aloft and then warms further as it descends (the same process that can produce very mild winter conditions along the east slopes of the Rockies via “chinook” winds). 

On Wednesday [July 13], the tiny town of Deadhorse, AK--located about 200 air miles southeast of Barrow, and just 10 miles from the Arctic Ocean--rocketed to a high of 85°F, which is an all-time high for the Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay area. Records there only go back to 1968, but climatologist Brian Brettschneider adds that the Deadhorse reading is the highest ever reported at any location within 50 miles of Alaska’s Arctic coast. The COOP station in Kuparuk, a few miles west of Deadhorse, also reported 85°F, according to Brettschneider