Mark Schrag uses a broom to keep up with autumn's falling leaves Thursday afternoon at the Cedars Apartments in Kenai. Fall and its cooler temperatures have set in after a summer that many complained was too rainy and chilly. Turns out this year's damp summer was more typical than the past three years' warm, dry weather.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Don’t let the groans and moans of recent transplants and warm-weather hopefuls fool you, this summer’s cool temperatures represent a true Alaska summer.
“Just tell them, ‘Stop your whining, it was normal’,” said Sam Albanese, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.
Contrary to common complaints that this summer has been unusually wet and cold, this year’s summer ended with a much more normal weather record than did the last three years.
“The previous three summers were extraordinarily hot and extraordinarily abnormal,” Albanese said. “This past summer was very close to what we would normally expect. It was slightly cooler and slightly wetter than normal but much closer to normal than the previous three summers.”
If you live in Kenai and are complaining that this summer was abnormally cold, your internal thermometer may be further off then the average Southcentral complainant.
According to the Alaska Climate Research Center, the average temperature in Kenai this summer climbed 1.4 degrees above that of a normal Kenai summer.
In June, July and August, Kenai’s overall average temperature was 54.9 degrees, compared to 53.5 degrees during a normal summer. The average high for the same period this summer was 62.8 degrees, compared to 61.2 degrees during a normal summer.
Defining normal as the 30 year average, Albanese laid out the following picture of what a normal summer in Southcentral Alaska should look like:
Starting in mid-May and early June Southcentral Alaskans can expect highs in the mid-50s to near 60s with lows in the 40s.
As summer temperatures peak in July, Southcentral temperatures range from an average high of 66 with lows in the low to mid-50s.
People acclimated to the last three summers, however, might be surprised to hear temperatures in the 70s are out of the norm for Southcentral Alaska particularly if they base their judgments on last year’s July temperatures.
“It was a record summer for the number of days that we exceeded 70 degrees,” Albanese said. “We had 16 days in July alone hat the temperature exceeded 70 degrees at Anchorage International Airport. That’s half the month when the temperatures were well above normal.”
This summer was a little wetter than the 30 year average. Although a spurt of rainy weather and flooding in August might suggest otherwise, Albanese said he would not characterize this summer as abnormally rainy.
“The thing that you’ve got to keep in mind is when you have what happened in August, that big flooding event and heavy rain, people tend to remember that and it can unfairly characterize what the summer was like,” he said.
In Kenai this summer’s precipitation exceeded the average by 2.3 inches, with 7.77 inches of rainfall measured this summer, compared to 5.42 inches of rainfall measured in an average year.
So complaints over precipitation might not be entirely off the mark, but unless global warming sets a new trend, Southcentral Alaskans expecting warm summer temperatures to re-emerge year after year will likely be disappointed.
While some may sulk over the return of cooler and more normal temperatures, Albanese, who has lived here for 20 years, said this summer’s weather was a relief after three years of abnormally warm weather.
“It was too hot. I didn’t like it,” he said. “Seventy degrees for me is OK. Once or twice is fine. After that it starts to get a little annoying. When you hit the 80s, that’s just downright not right.”
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