2013 has been a record setting year in Anchorage for snow, heat and rain. It actually began last year on September 29, 2012 with our first measurable snowfall of the season in Anchorage. The last day of snowfall was May 18, 2013 giving us a 232 day snow season for the winter of 2012-13. The previous record was 230 days in 1981-82. Our winter average is 186 days between the first and last snowfall of the season. The latest snowfall on record in 0.2 inches on May 22, 1964. Since 1954 there are a total of 13 years that Anchorage has had any snowfall in May. That’s 21.7% of the time. Only four of those years had an inch or more in May. In May, 2013, we had 1.1″, the fourth highest recorded. Previous records were 6.1″ in 2001, 3.9″ in 1963 and 1.3″ in 1985.
We also hit a record temperature on May 17, 2013 (the day before our last snowfall) with the day’s high only getting up to 37°F. The previous lowest high temp for any May 17 in Anchorage was 44°F in 1971. As an aside, our coldest official temperature of the 2012-13 winter was -11°F on December 17, 2012. As we all know, temperatures can vary widely from the “official temperature” recorded at Ted Stevens International Airport, depending on where you are within the Municipality of Anchorage. An example that sticks in my mind took place several years ago when I left my Oceanview home on a cold winter day and drove to Eagle River. My car thermometer read -3°F when I left home. At the intersection of Muldoon and the Glenn Highway it read -13°F. When I crossed the Eagle River bridge it read -27°F and when I reached my destination near the end of Eagle River Road, just past the Visitor’s Center, it was -33°F. An hour later, on my way back the temperatures were exactly the same at each location, including my home. In other words, the differences were normal, not due to shifting temperatures. On a typical winter day in Anchorage, the further you move away from the Inlet, the colder it gets. The opposite can be true on a sunny summer day.
Ironically, just 32 days after setting the record low high temp of 37°F for May 17, 2013, we had our hottest day of the year in Anchorage on June 18, 2013 at 81°F. In fact, we had 17 days of 70°F or warmer in June and 21 more in July. Year to date, at latest count we are up to 39 days of 70°F or warmer. We’re not going to beat our Anchorage record of 49 days in 2004, but we certainly beat 2008 which only had two days of 70°F or warmer. The record that we did set though was 14 consecutive days of 70°F or higher on July 17, 2013. The previous record was 13 consecutive days on August 2, 2004, June 20, 1953 and July 17, 1936! By the way, the highest official temperature ever recorded in Anchorage was 86°F in July, 1993. The lowest is -39°F in January, 1975.
The final record was just set last Friday when we completed 18 consecutive days of measurable rainfall, matching the record set in September, 1919. I could have sworn that we’d had at least 30+ consecutive days of rain, but I guess that’s just an impression we’re left with when it seems to be raining most of the time.
I had frost on my windshield this morning (9/16/13) at 7:30am, even though my car’s temperature gauge read 37°F, so we are definitely beginning the fall season. This is ironic, because I went on a bicycle training ride yesterday afternoon in my short sleeved jersey and cycling shorts and was very comfortable. I’ll be switching my thinking to cross country skiing our local trails sooner than later. Speaking of that, don’t forget to disconnect your outdoor hoses sometime in the next few weeks to avoid freezing and breaking the water spigots. Removing the hose allows water to drain from the spigot’s freeze-free zone. Otherwise, water might be trapped and freeze with the hose connected. As you know, once frozen, the pipe or connection can break causing internal flooding issues and none of us want to have to deal with that.