It's official: Summer of 2008 not so hot

Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008

While many lament the coming of winter, it won't be difficult for some to say good-bye to the summer of 2008, which was not very representative of the typical warm weather months of the year.

Most anglers could count on one hand the number of sunny days spent on the water, hikers had to get use to not seeing pristine views from area peaks, and more than one tourist may have gone home wondering if there really were volcanoes across the inlet. In other words, clouds have prevailed for months now.

"It was the third-coolest summer on record if you look at daily high temperatures," said Todd Foisy, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, in reference to the months of June, July, and August.

Foisy said while records are not specifically recorded by the National Weather Service for all Southcentral Alaska locations, the Kenai Peninsula has a pattern very similar to Anchorage in regard to temperature, and as such, "the records would be similar" in regard to high and lows this past summer.

In Anchorage, the average high temperature was 60.9 degrees, which was 3 degrees below normal, and there were only 17 days where temperatures were above normal. This translates to 18 percent of days this summer being warmer than normal, 5 percent being considered normal, and a whopping 77 percent of days being cooler than normal.

"We only had two days above 70 degrees. That's the fewest ever, since records began in 1917," he said.

The old record for the fewest 70 degree days was a three-way tie for the years 1927, 1939 and 1980, all of which only had three days above 70 degrees.

July was the only month in 2008 to experience any days with temperatures reaching above 70 degrees. Those temperatures occurred at the beginning of the month and were immediately followed by a long stretch of cool and wet weather.

While the summer may have been cool in regard to highs, in was quite the opposite in regard to the lows, according to Foisy.

"If you look at lows, it wasn't that cool a summer at all. The minimum temperatures only ranked as the 34th coolest on record," he said.

Foisy said the reason for this could again be attributed to clouds. The endless days of cloudcover inversely helped to lock in what little heat there was during the day, keeping temperatures up overnight.

Despite all these clouds, they didn't bring much wet weather.

"It was an average summer in regard to precipitation," Foisy said.

June and August were both below average in regard to precipitation, while July was above average, but only by roughly an inch and a half.

As to what the fall and winter will hold in regard to weather based on this past summer's pattern, Foisy said it would be difficult to say for certain, but the odds are against any more 70-degree days sneaking in this year.

According to the National Weather Service, since 1917 there have only been 17 times that temperatures in September have reached or exceeded 70 degrees. Instead, September historically opens with high temperatures around 60 and overnight lows in the middle 40s, but by the end of the month the average high typically reaches the upper 40s with lows around the middle 30s.

Also, the average first frost -- where the minimum temperature falls below 32 degrees -- is typically around Sept. 18, but it has occurred as early as Aug. 14, and as late as Oct. 16.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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