In July, when much of the eastern two-thirds of the lower 48 states were recording above average temperatures, the residents of our 49th state were shivering. Alaska has been experiencing a cool 2012 and last month was no exception.
Anchorage for example, was on track to set a record for the coldest July on record, but a few days in the low 70s toward the end of the month was just enough to allow the largest city in Alaska to end up with the 4th coldest July since 1918. That cold air was not confined to just Anchorage, as nearly the entire state finished with well below normal temperatures for the month and overall it was the 18th coldest July on record for the state.
The same persistent pattern that has kept our area with consistently warm conditions has in turn, also kept Alaska colder than average for much of the past year. The recent pattern shift has at least temporarily allowed most of Alaska to finally experience a touch of summer in recent days.
Based on what the projected temperatures are today, it seems likely that this month will end up as the 2nd warmest July on record. Currently, 1916, 1989 and 1988, 1935 and 1957 are all virtually tied for that position, but they do technically rank in the order listed.
If you are surprised that this month ended up warmer than 1988 and 1989, the years many readers will remember, it was the low temperatures this month that made the difference, not the high temperatures. July 1988 and 1989 had a noticeable higher average for daily maximums, but those months also had much cooler nights than this year.
Although this July will rank as the 2nd warmest on record, it still comes far short of the record warmest July set back in 1936. In fact, this month will likely end up around 3 degrees cooler than what was recorded that year, which averaged over a full 31 days is very significant.
But that should not take away from this month as it was certainly a July many of us will not be forgetting anytime soon.
What has been the most notable weather feature of this summer? The lack of rain? The high heat? Too me, it may be the lack of 70s for daily highs. Since June 1, the beginning of climatological summer, there has only been 11 days with a high temperature below 80 degrees.
At the moment, with the likely exception of today, it appears the rest of the month will see a high above 80 degrees which would mean that the first two months of this summer will end up with the 2nd fewest such days since 1881 (a total of 2). It will probably not surprise many of you who lived through it, but the record for June and July is just 6 such days set back in 1988.
In addition, this month has recorded only 1 day with a high below 80 degrees and if we can hit 80 today (unlikely), that would tie 1916, 1935 and 1989 for the fewest sub 80 degrees highs in July. This summer will very likely not be the warmest on record; yet, the consistency of the heat without a break has been remarkable to this point.
If you have been up early this week, you have been greeted to a beautiful celestial show. Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets, have been rising before the sun and shining side by side in the early morning eastern sky. For the past few days the two planets of been joined by the star Aldebaran, which is the bright red eye of Taurus the Bull (constellation).
Although you may not want to spend one of your weekend mornings being up before sunrise, tomorrow morning may bring the best show of the week. Sunday morning will not only have both Venus and Jupiter shining brightly in the eastern sky, but the two planets will be joined by a waning crescent moon. The three celestial bodies will form a bright triangle just before the Sun rises and spoils the show.
Sunrise is approximately 5:50 AM on Sunday morning, so the best time to observe all of this will be from around 5:00 AM until 5:50 AM.
I was asked if this past July was only the second time on record that no site in Minnesota reported a 90 degree high. Although the major reporting sites did not reach 90 degrees last month, a few cooperative sites and the Red Wing, Minnesota airport did on July 10. It was, climatologically, unusual for the entire state of Minnesota to record so few 90 degree temperatures in the middle of summer.
It was the coolest July since 1992 and the third coolest on record for the state. The coolest July on record for Minnesota was back in 1915, which was also the coolest on record for Fargo Moorhead. Locally, no 90 degree days were recorded in July either, but that is not as unusual as you might think. In the early 1990s Fargo Moorhead had three consecutive Julys (1992-1994) with no 90 degree days recorded plus there are several other Julys reporting the same.