Alaska sees unseasonably warm weather

Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2002

It's been 90 years since the temperature reached 74 degrees on May 20 in Fairbanks, but the record didn't have a chance Monday.

By 3:30 p.m., the temperature was already three degrees over the old record and rising. By 4:42 p.m. it reached its zenith for the day at 80 degrees.

''There was a cold spot in the (weather) curve begging for correction and we got it,'' said Ted Fathauer, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Fairbanks. ''Oh my, do we have it.''

Though fire danger is up, Alaskans in Interior and Southcentral are enjoying record-breaking temperatures.

Eielson Air Force Base reported a record high of 81 degrees, matching the temperature recorded in Galena on the Yukon River.

Tanana and Nenana warmed up to 79-degrees and Denali Park and Delta Junction had matching highs of 75 degrees.

On Sunday, the mercury rose to 77 degrees in Fairbanks, tying the 1990 high temperature record.

''It's even sunny out on the Bering Sea coast,'' added Ted Fathauer, lead weather forecaster for the weather service in Fairbanks.

In Anchorage, the temperature reached record highs over the weekend and again Monday when the mercury hit 75. Anchorage tied an old record with 69 degrees on Saturday and set one with 74 degrees Sunday.

Away from the airport, which is cooled by Knik Arm breezes, the temperatures soared higher. On Sunday, Muldoon was the city's hot spot at 80 and had reached 78 by Monday afternoon. Colony Fire Station in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough reported 83.

''You just keep heating up until the sun goes down,'' said meteorologist Sam Albanese of the National Weather Service in Anchorage. ''I think we've been 10 or 13 degrees above normal over the past couple of days. But the nighttime lows seem to have been pretty close to what they're supposed to be.''

The gorgeous weather system was expected to last through at least the weekend, Albanese said.

The dark side of the balmy weather is very low humidity, less than 20 percent at midday, said Fathauer.

''This means the danger for forest fires is very much elevated. On a normal summer day we get something under 50 percent.''

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