Record Warmth in Alaska Contrasts Cold Wave in Eastern U.S.

By: Christopher C. Burt , 8:36 PM GMT on January 27, 2014

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Record Warmth in Alaska Contrasts Cold Wave in Eastern U.S.

UPDATE 1/28: The all-time warmest January temperature ever observed in Alaska was tied on January 27 when the temperature peaked at 62°F (16.7°C) at Port Alsworth. This ties a similar reading measured at Petersburg on January 16, 1981.

As the eastern half of the U.S. goes into the deep freeze (as outlined in Jeff Masters' blog today, the flip side is the record warmth that California and Alaska have been experiencing (for two straight weeks now). All-time monthly records for warmth have been set at numerous locations in both states, something that cannot yet be said to have occurred during the cold waves this month in the eastern U.S.



The 850 mb height temperature anomaly for North America for the period of January 14-24 illustrates the amazing contrast between the cold in the East and the warmth in the West. NOAA.

Alaska

UPDATE 1/28: The all-time warmest temperature ever observed in Alaska was tied on January 27 when the temperature peaked at 62°F (16.7°C) at Port Alsworth. This ties a similar reading measured at Petersburg on January 16, 1981.

The last half of January has been one of the warmest winter periods in the state’s history with temperatures averaging as much as 40°F above normal on some days in locations in the central and western portions of the state. All time January monthly heat records have so far been established at Nome: 51°F (10.6°C) on January 27 (former record 46°F/7.8°C on January 7, 1942, POR since 1906), Denali Park HQ: 52°F (11.1°C) on January 27 (former record 51°F/10.6°C on January 21, 1961, POR since 1922), Palmer: 58°F (14.4°C) on January 26 (former record 52°F/11.1°C on January 20, 1961, POR since 1949), Homer: 57°F (13.9°C) on January 27 (former record 51°F/10.6°C on January 23, 1961, POR since 1932), Alyseka: 57°F (13.9°C) on January 26 (former record 50°F/10.0°C on January 4, 1995, POR since 1963) Seward: 58°F (14.4°C) on January 27 (former record 55°F/12.8°C on January 7, 2005, POR since 1949), Talkeetna: 47°F (8.3°C) on January 25 (former record 46°F/7.8°C on January 21, 2004, POR since 1949),Kotzebue 40°F (4.4°C) on January 27 (former record 39°F/3.9°C on January 20, 1961).

A pool of shallow cool air has prevented monthly temperature records from having been set at some interior locations such as Fairbanks where the high of 45°F (7.2°C) on January 24th was well short of the monthly record of 52°F (11.1°C) set on January 16, 2009.



In fact, on Sunday (January 26) the temperature at around the 10,600’ level (about the 700 mb level) rose to freezing above Fairbanks, the warmest ever measured for any month from November to March (inclusive). The same also occurred at Ketchikan where at the 850 mb level (around 5,000’) the temperature soared to 53.6°F (12°C), a January record for any location anywhere in the state.

However, in spite of the shallow cool air at the surface, some interior locations have reached record territory. Most incredible is an unofficial report from an automated platform at Boli Lake, south of Delta Junction, which reported 60°F (15.6°C) on January 26. If accurate, this would be just 2°F shy of Alaska’s all-time state monthly record of 62°F (16.7°C) set at Petersburg on January 16, 1981. Of course, Petersburg is on the southeast Alaskan Peninsula where mild Pacific air sometimes intrudes during the winters. Boli Lake is in the heart the Alaskan interior, normally one of the coldest regions in the state during January.

Extreme January Warmth Elsewhere

The extreme warmth experienced so far this month in Alaska has also been noted in Canada’s Yukon Territory where Carmacks has averaged 22.5°C (40.5°F) above average for the past 10 days (-12.1°C low 2.2°C high versus a normal of -33.6°C low and -23.8°C high). In Iceland, Reykjavik is so far experiencing it’s 8th warmest January on record with a POR beginning in 1871. Greenland has also been exceptionally warm with the normally frigid Summit Station (at 10,500’) yet to record a -50°C (-45.5°F) reading this month (which is around what the entire monthly daily minimum average should be).



The warmth over Alaska, the Arctic, Greenland, and Iceland, while so cold in the eastern U.S., can be illustrated by this 500 mb anomaly map of the northern hemisphere forecast for February 1st and produced on January 27th. Note how the polar vortex has been split into two lobes. I am not sure how unusual or not this is. Map courtesy of Guy Walton.

Meanwhile, of course, California has seen an unprecedented 14 consecutive days of record-breaking high temperatures including several all-time monthly records such as the 79°F (26.1°C) at downtown Sacramento on January 24th which smashed by 5°F the previous warmest January temperature of 74°F (23.3°C) set on January 12, 2009. Records at downtown Sacramento go back to 1877.

I will post a more comprehensive summary of the ‘Great California January Heat Wave’ (the most anomalous temperature event in the U.S. since the March heat wave of 2012) when the warmth has run its course.

KUDOS: Thanks to Rick Thoman at NWS-Fairbanks for much of the Alaskan temperature information and Maximiliano Herrera for the notes on Canada, Greenland, and Iceland.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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15. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
8:27 PM GMT on January 30, 2014
weatherhistorian has created a new entry.
14. ColoradoBob1
5:42 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
Most extensive fire since World War II

The fire in Flatanger on the West Coast of Norway is the most extensive fire catastrophe in Norway since World War II. More than 139 houses and buildings have been destroyed.

The fire in Flatanger in the county of Nord Trøndelag started late Monday night, and only ten days after 40 houses burned to the ground in Lærdalsøyri, also on the West coast.

Link
Member Since: August 13, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2171
13. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
1:53 AM GMT on January 29, 2014
Quoting 12. lickitysplit:
Great post. I really appreciate it. I have a question. I was discussing this with a friend in Alaksa and he said that if I look back at the last 150 years of data I'd see that Alaksa is currently in a a very typical warming period and that they come and go and that this is not unusual. I dont see that in the data.

He also said that Alaska "even with a naturally occurring global rise in temperature of 0.8 degrees since end of Little Ice Age temperatures in Alaska are about where they were in the 1930's."

I dont see this either. Can someone please clarify?


Your friend is a bit fact-free in his assessment. I'll' follow up a bit later, but in the meantime:

UPDATE 1/28: The all-time warmest January temperature ever observed in Alaska was tied on January 27 when the temperature peaked at 62°F (16.7°C) at Port Alsworth. This ties a similar reading measured at Petersburg on January 16, 1981.
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 289 Comments: 273
12. lickitysplit
7:50 PM GMT on January 28, 2014
Great post. I really appreciate it. I have a question. I was discussing this with a friend in Alaksa and he said that if I look back at the last 150 years of data I'd see that Alaksa is currently in a a very typical warming period and that they come and go and that this is not unusual. I dont see that in the data.

He also said that Alaska "even with a naturally occurring global rise in temperature of 0.8 degrees since end of Little Ice Age temperatures in Alaska are about where they were in the 1930's."

I dont see this either. Can someone please clarify?
Member Since: May 17, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 631
11. SouthTampa
4:29 PM GMT on January 28, 2014
It is astounding. The forecast high for Tampa tomorrow is 52. To think that Nome, AK was as warm as Tampa in the dead of winter is amazing.
Member Since: June 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 128
10. Neapolitan
12:58 PM GMT on January 28, 2014
Quoting 7. weatherhistorian:


The 51° today was the warmest temperature since 1907 to have ever been observed between the dates of Oct. 17 (55° in 1969) and April 9 (52° in 1940).
That is incredible astounding...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13442
9. maxcrc
7:18 AM GMT on January 28, 2014
Quoting 5. ColoradoBob1:

The 30 day anomaly for Longyearbyen, Svalbard is now at +10.1 C. That is truly mindgobbling! Also at the smaller island, Hopen (situated south-east of Svalbard), the anomaly is lingering Close to + 10 C above normal, while the status at Jan Mayen, situated between Island and Svalbard is having "only" +7 C above normal.

I notice that seaice the last month have crept closer upon Svalbard, but like last Winter, Sea Ice most likely won't encircle this Archipelago of Islands this Winter either. On the other hand, a long Cold spring is still able to stir Things up!

Here are some links:

Link

Link

Posted by: Christoffer Ladstein

Link


Geez... that's worse than January 2007 !
Member Since: February 9, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 148
8. mtwhitney
3:44 AM GMT on January 28, 2014
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

The central arctic, above 80 degrees north, has spiked to 20degrees f above normal in recent days.
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 14
7. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
1:58 AM GMT on January 28, 2014
Quoting 6. Neapolitan:
Saw this awhile ago:

Speaking of Alaska, Nome is currently at an incredible 50F. This statement is from a few hours ago:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FAIRBANKS AK
1156 AM AKST MON JAN 27 2014

...ALL-TIME JANUARY HIGH TEMPERATURES SET IN NORTHERN ALASKA...

A RECORD WARM AIRMASS HAS RESULTED IN MANY LOCATIONS TYING OR
SETTING RECORD DAILY TEMPERATURES ACROSS NORTHERN ALASKA THE PAST
SEVERAL DAYS. SOME LONG TERM STATIONS HAVE BROKEN ALL-TIME
JANUARY HIGH TEMPERATURES...INCLUDING DENALI NATIONAL PARK
HEADQUARTERS AND NOME. JANUARY RECORDS WERE LIKELY SET AT SOME
OTHER LOCATIONS BUT THEY EITHER LACK A LONG PERIOD OF RECORD OR
OBSERVED TEMPERATURES.

ON SUNDAY THE 26TH THE TEMPERATURE CLIMBED TO A SCORCHING 52
DEGREES AT DENALI NATIONAL PARK HEADQUARTERS. THIS IS THE WARMEST
TEMPERATURE EVER RECORDED AT THE PARK HEADQUARTERS IN JANUARY
DURING THE PAST 92 YEARS OF OBSERVATIONS. THE PREVIOUS RECORD FOR
THE MONTH WAS 51 DEGREES SET ON JANUARY 21ST 1961. FOR
REFERENCE...52 DEGREES IS THE NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE IN MID MAY
AT THE PARK HEADQUARTERS. THE NORMAL HIGH FOR JANUARY 26TH IS 11
DEGREES ABOVE ZERO.

AT NOME...THE TEMPERATURE HAS SOARED TO 48 DEGREES THIS MORNING.
THIS IS WARMEST TEMPERATURE EVER OBSERVED IN JANUARY AT NOME SINCE
RECORDS BEGAN IN 1906. THE PREVIOUS RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE FOR
THE MONTH OF JANUARY WAS 46 DEGREES SET ON JANUARY 7TH 1942. FOR
REFERENCE...48 DEGREES IS THE NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE IN LATE MAY
AT NOME. THE NORMAL HIGH FOR JANUARY 27TH IS 13 DEGREES ABOVE
ZERO. IT IS POSSIBLE THE RECORD COULD BE FURTHER BROKEN TODAY.


Update: Nome reached at least 51 degrees today, breaking the town's all-time January high temperature record by a whopping 5 degrees. And that is higher than the warmest temperature ever measured there in not just January, but also February, March, November, or December, and it's equal to the record April high there. (FWIW, 51 is the average high there in early June.)


The 51° today was the warmest temperature since 1907 to have ever been observed between the dates of Oct. 17 (55° in 1969) and April 9 (52° in 1940).
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 289 Comments: 273
6. Neapolitan
12:44 AM GMT on January 28, 2014
Saw this awhile ago:

Speaking of Alaska, Nome is currently at an incredible 50F. This statement is from a few hours ago:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FAIRBANKS AK
1156 AM AKST MON JAN 27 2014

...ALL-TIME JANUARY HIGH TEMPERATURES SET IN NORTHERN ALASKA...

A RECORD WARM AIRMASS HAS RESULTED IN MANY LOCATIONS TYING OR
SETTING RECORD DAILY TEMPERATURES ACROSS NORTHERN ALASKA THE PAST
SEVERAL DAYS. SOME LONG TERM STATIONS HAVE BROKEN ALL-TIME
JANUARY HIGH TEMPERATURES...INCLUDING DENALI NATIONAL PARK
HEADQUARTERS AND NOME. JANUARY RECORDS WERE LIKELY SET AT SOME
OTHER LOCATIONS BUT THEY EITHER LACK A LONG PERIOD OF RECORD OR
OBSERVED TEMPERATURES.

ON SUNDAY THE 26TH THE TEMPERATURE CLIMBED TO A SCORCHING 52
DEGREES AT DENALI NATIONAL PARK HEADQUARTERS. THIS IS THE WARMEST
TEMPERATURE EVER RECORDED AT THE PARK HEADQUARTERS IN JANUARY
DURING THE PAST 92 YEARS OF OBSERVATIONS. THE PREVIOUS RECORD FOR
THE MONTH WAS 51 DEGREES SET ON JANUARY 21ST 1961. FOR
REFERENCE...52 DEGREES IS THE NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE IN MID MAY
AT THE PARK HEADQUARTERS. THE NORMAL HIGH FOR JANUARY 26TH IS 11
DEGREES ABOVE ZERO.

AT NOME...THE TEMPERATURE HAS SOARED TO 48 DEGREES THIS MORNING.
THIS IS WARMEST TEMPERATURE EVER OBSERVED IN JANUARY AT NOME SINCE
RECORDS BEGAN IN 1906. THE PREVIOUS RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE FOR
THE MONTH OF JANUARY WAS 46 DEGREES SET ON JANUARY 7TH 1942. FOR
REFERENCE...48 DEGREES IS THE NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE IN LATE MAY
AT NOME. THE NORMAL HIGH FOR JANUARY 27TH IS 13 DEGREES ABOVE
ZERO. IT IS POSSIBLE THE RECORD COULD BE FURTHER BROKEN TODAY.


Update: Nome reached at least 51 degrees today, breaking the town's all-time January high temperature record by a whopping 5 degrees. And that is higher than the warmest temperature ever measured there in not just January, but also February, March, November, or December, and it's equal to the record April high there. (FWIW, 51 is the average high there in early June.)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13442
5. ColoradoBob1
12:35 AM GMT on January 28, 2014

The 30 day anomaly for Longyearbyen, Svalbard is now at +10.1 C. That is truly mindgobbling! Also at the smaller island, Hopen (situated south-east of Svalbard), the anomaly is lingering Close to + 10 C above normal, while the status at Jan Mayen, situated between Island and Svalbard is having "only" +7 C above normal.

I notice that seaice the last month have crept closer upon Svalbard, but like last Winter, Sea Ice most likely won't encircle this Archipelago of Islands this Winter either. On the other hand, a long Cold spring is still able to stir Things up!

Here are some links:

Link

Link

Posted by: Christoffer Ladstein

Link
Member Since: August 13, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2171
4. ColoradoBob1
12:31 AM GMT on January 28, 2014
Aqua/MODIS
2014/025
01/25/2014
22:00 UTC


Sediment along the southern coast of Alaska

Link
Member Since: August 13, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2171
3. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
12:28 AM GMT on January 28, 2014
Quoting 2. TheMidge:
Always appreciate your work. Very minor nit pick in the interest of geography and place names (you've probably heard this already) the Yukon is a territory, not a province. Hope you're not eye-rolling...


Not at all! I've corrected. Thanks!
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 289 Comments: 273
2. TheMidge
12:00 AM GMT on January 28, 2014
Always appreciate your work. Very minor nit pick in the interest of geography and place names (you've probably heard this already) the Yukon is a territory, not a province. Hope you're not eye-rolling...
Member Since: November 2, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
1. Bogon
10:03 PM GMT on January 27, 2014
There are some indications that next week the ridge in the west will finally break down. Maybe California will get some rain, and the east will warm up under a more nearly zonal flow pattern.
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 78 Comments: 3623

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About weatherhistorian

Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.