Cold snap hits Interior with solstice frost

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Temperatures across the Interior dropped to freezing right after the summer solstice celebrations, leaving gardeners with blackened, withered plants. It was an unusual dip for the Interior, which often enjoys Alaska's balmiest summer temperatures.

But early Saturday morning, North Pole's temperature slid to 30 degrees, breaking the 1982 record for the day of 35 degrees. At Eielson Air Force Base, the temperature reached 32, eight degrees cooler than the 1949 record of 40 degrees. At Denali Park, the temperature also hit freezing.

A large low-pressure circulation over the Arctic Ocean was to blame, said John Lingaas of the National Weather Service.

''It is pretty unprecedented. We hadn't seen a cold air mass like this come through ... (in) over 40 years,'' Lingaas said.

The blast zapped plants in Ed Bostrom's North Pole garden. His sweet peas were limp, as were some of the flowers. His potato plants were a bit brown on top. The strawberries and asparagus appeared to be OK.

''It isn't devastating,'' Bostrom said. ''I don't want any more of it the first day of summer, for God's sake. Longest day of the year and we have to worry about frost.''

The frost will not likely return in the next few days, Lingaas said, and lows should stay up in the 40s.

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