Alaska sets new record for earliest day with temperatures in the 90s
by Gaius Publius
Taking a break from scary Fast Track news (rumors of large-dollar amounts that could be changing hands on the Republican side are starting to frighten me), I'll offer this climate news. But before I do, a few points:
- People are getting it, even Republicans, 48% of whom are "more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to fight climate change."
- It's not too late to make a big difference. All we have to do is ... stop burning carbon. It's not like we don't have alternatives; we do, and very good ones.
- When the number of Americans who are "freaking out" because some Arab Spring–style event caused a critical mass of people to demand change, we will have all the change we need.
- I think we're very close to that seed event (see the interesting discussion here). When the wrong scary thing happens at the right time, it won't take much, as I see it. People are primed and ready to "get it" for real.
Alaska sets new record for earliest day with temperatures in the 90sI know all that red in the image above is scary (and it should be for this early in the year), but the real takeaway is in the chart below.
It’s been a warm, dry spring for much of interior Alaska. On the afternoon of May 23, a new statewide record was set for the earliest day in the year with a temperature in the 90s. A daytime high of 91°F was noted by a cooperative observer in Eagle, where temperatures have been recorded (with some breaks) since the 1890s.
This temperature map of Alaska [above] shows the unusual warmth on May 23, 2015, at 2 p.m. local time in Fairbanks. Based on NOAA’s Real-time Mesoscale Analysis data, it shows air temperatures at 2 meters (6.6 feet) above the ground. Temperatures below 45° are shades of blue, and temperatures above 45° are shades of orange and red. ...
The 91° temperature at Eagle smashed that location’s all-time record for May. It was 30.1° hotter than the average daily high temperature in May (59.5°F), and 18.1° warmer than the average high temperature in July, Eagle’s warmest month of the year. So far this month, Eagle has set or tied ten daily high temperature records.
The new record edged out the previous “earliest day in the 90s” record, set on May 24, 1960, when Fort Wainwright (near Fairbanks) had a high of 92°F and Circle Hot Springs (northwest of Eagle) had a high of 90°F. The high temperature at Eagle during that heatwave was 83°F. ...
Just find May on the chart and read up. Note that for May, the average daytime high is 60°F. As the site tells us:
Now go back to May and read up again, past 60°F to 90°F. (Hint: It's above the top of the chart.) The new record edged out the previous “earliest day in the 90s” record, set on May 24, 1960, when Fort Wainwright (near Fairbanks) had a high of 92°F and Circle Hot Springs (northwest of Eagle) had a high of 90°F. The high temperature at Eagle during that heatwave was 83°F.
Thirty degrees higher this May at this location than the average of the last 30 years is pretty high. This May also broke the "earliest day above 90°F in Alaska" record and the "highest ever recorded at that location" record. This doesn't just smash records; it grinds them into sand and salts the earth beneath them.
It's certainly true that one year does not make a trend. But a trend makes a trend, and we seem to be solidly in one. If our course of action is the cause of the trend, the prudent person changes course, just in case.
All we need do is to apply that "Easter Island solution" I'm kind of fond of.