Real Alaska


An ice-filled Turnagain Arm stretch away toward Fire Island and the snow-covered mountains of the Aleutian Range/Craig Medred photo

Even in these global warming days, Alaska can still make residents of the 49th state shiver in their socks.

Coming off the warmest year in state history, January 2020 slapped the residents of the Anchorage Metro area – home to more than half the state population – back to reality with below normal cold.

Well-below-normal cold.

National Weather Service (NWS) records put the month at number eight on a list of record cold months dating back to the notoriously cold 1970s when temperatures caused state salmon runs to crash.

January 1971 leads the list of coldest Januaries with an average temperature of 2.7 degrees; so Anchorage area residents now whining about frozen pipes, frost-heaving driveways and the general aggravations of living in the subArctic should take solace in the fact this winter was 2.3 times warmer at an average of 6.2 degrees.

And the lowest temperatures, while cold, never went truly brutal as in the 1970s. Anchorage hit 35 degrees below zero – a Central Alaska kind of number – on Jan. 5, 1975, only a day after pegging minus-31.

The Weather Service’s top-10 list of coldest days pretty much summarizes what the early 70s were like. Except for Jan. 29, 1989, which sneaks into the list third with a temperature of minus-30, every day on the top-10 list comes in the years between 1972 and 1975.

The coldest it got this January was minus-11 on Jan. 6 and again on Jan. 8. The records are kept at the NWS office near Anchorage International Airport, however, and the city – not to mention the greater metro area – is notorious for its microclimates.

Some areas in the city reported hitting minus-20 to minus-25 more than once, which might well have come as a shock to teeth-chattering cheechakoes who thought 2019 with its 20.3 degree average was normal or even 2018 at 19 degrees with nary a day below zero all month.

Climate normal for Anchorage in January is 17.1 degrees, and the city proper is something of an Alaska hotspot.

Seward’s Icebox

One doesn’t have to go far north before temperatures start plummetting.

About 100 miles up the George Parks Highway northern edge of what the U.S. Census considers the “Anchorage metropolitan area,” the low in Talkeetna hit minus-36 on Jan. 5 and again on Jan. 8.

North of the Alaska Range mountains that split the 49th state in two, it only got colder. The 2020 cold snap there actually started at the end of December 2019 with cold, Arctic air trying to chill the bid for a record-warm 2019.

Central Alaska made national headlines when the lows officially hit 65 degrees below zero shortly after Christmas, and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported a bone-numbing temperature of minus-72 in the Alatna Hills to the north on Dec. 27.

Most people have no idea how cold this cold. Suffice to say, if you toss your warm coffee out of the mug at this temperature, the water in it will instantly freeze and the coffee will explode into a cloud of ice. 

Anchorage, thankfully for most of those who live there, never sees these sorts of temperatures, and at the end of December it was still basking in Seattle-like warmth thanks to a lingering pool of tropical air from far south in the Pacific Ocean, but that would change quickly on New Year’s Eve and be all gone by New Year’s Day.

The Weather Service is promising a warmer February. The forecast offers the possibility Anchorage could see a daytime temperatures above freezing by early next week. And February is a naturally warmer month in Anchorage than January.

Climate normal – which is the middle of a wide range in the ever-unpredictable north – rises 2.6 degrees to 19.7 in February, and last year, the month produced five days when the temperature climbed to freezing or above. The warmth might not have lasted long, but with the sun returning in the wake of summer solstice the weather felt warmer even on the days it wasn’t.












19 replies »

  1. During the obama administration, weather stations were moved to warmer areas all over the USA to better reflect “Global Warming”. Anchorage was one such city.

    “New” weather station location. Was moved to this location to “show global warming was real”. Original weather station is at bottom of page. Weather stations were moved to warmer areas of cities during Obama’s tenure.

    10 degree difference between original Merryll Field Airport and Anchorage International Airport location.
    NOAA logo – Click to go to the NOAA homepage Weather observations for the past three days NWS logo

    Anchorage, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

    26 08:53 Calm 10.00 A Few Clouds FEW080 -7

    Original location before Obama moved weather station(as he did all over the USA to show “Global Warming”
    NOAA logo – Click to go to the NOAA homepage Weather observations for the past three days NWS logo

    Anchorage, Merrill Field Airport

    January .26 08:53 E 3 10.00 Fair CLR -17

    If You remember, when we had a lot of snow a few years ago, it took until April to “break” the old record snowfall of 13 feet because the “new” location has less snowfall than the original location at Merryll Field which had greatly surpassed the old record months earlier……….

    • Marlin, you are correct. Weather stations in the lower 48 were setup near asphalt highways because the black would absorb and give off more heat. They were also setup near large cities that trap more heat. Total scam this whole “Global Warming” crap is.

      • Bryan: It’s not a total scam. The satellite data indicates the planet is warming. But it is something that is easily overhyped. The most realistic projections on temperature increase – if they are correct and humans, including scientists, have proven notoriously bad at predicting the future – are troubling, but far from insurmountable in terms of humans abilities to deal with change.

  2. It appears that the National Weather Service has only deemed weather data going back 50 years as accurate so as to not conflict with their climate models. If one were to include historical weather data going back to the 20’s & 30’s in Alaska – much of it accurate – you would see much hotter & colder temperatures.

  3. Craig,

    Very nice photo, looking past Fire Island, down Turnagain & Cook at the western mountains.

    From the west tip of the Spenard area, due N, there’s a 100 acre parcel draped over half a mile of bluffs not far W of Pt. MacKenzie proper. From these bluffs one gazes W (among other vistas) along the arcing north Cook coast over the whole of the Susitna Delta/Flats, and features further west.

    From maybe another mild elevation a little further north on Spenard peninsula, this stretch of bluffs should be, like, on fire at about this time of day. At about 10 miles, some zoom would be handy, and maybe the heights aren’t quite what one wants/needs … but it looked kinda suggestive, from what you put together for this photo.

  4. “The coldest it got this January was minus-11 on Jan. 6 and again on Jan. 8. The records are kept at the NWS office near Anchorage International Airport” That’s funny, if anyone thinks the low in Anchorage for January was actually -11 they didn’t go outside at all.

  5. Bryan,
    You are forgetting a drug that influences children way before Xanax in our modern world and I am not talking about “grass”.
    “Generation Adderall” they have been dubbed by many.
    Currently, it is estimated as many as 5 million adolescents in the U.S. alone are on Adderall.
    A side effect of which is Psychosis…
    “Methamphetamine and Adderall belong to a class of drugs called amphetamines and have similar chemical structures.
    As a result, they cause the same general effects on the body.
    Both drugs increase heart rate and make a person feel more alert.
    “They’re all cousins,” 
    It’s difficult to directly compare the strength of Adderall to the strength of meth. 
    When used therapeutically, Adderall and meth cause similar effects.”

      • Bryan,
        What is tongue in cheek about “Those poor saps under 30, suicidal over “climate anxiety”.
        You obviously think the young generation is suffering from anxiety and depression.
        I am merely showing you what is causing it.
        Adderall is chemically no different than meth or cocaine…heavily addictive and nasty withdrawal symptoms…hence the anxiety and psychosis that you claim in your comments.
        Heck, even members on the set of the Apprentice claim that Trump enjoys Adderall all the time.

        “Donald Trump abused Adderall on the set & it made him crazy.
        He even snorted Adderall.
        Mark Burnett knew it.
        It’s scary,” he wrote in a tweet, accusing The Apprentice creator of knowing that the president took the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug.”

        This stuff is all over the board.
        Saw it on campus as an RA many years ago.
        Adderall Epidemic …no joke!

      • “Adderall is chemically no different than meth or cocaine” actually they are all chemically different…that’s why they are different drugs with different names. One thing they all have in common is that they all have nothing to do with the temperature or climate in Alaska, just saying.

      • Steve O,
        I was replying to Bryan’s comment which is still allowed on this site.
        Just because drugs have different names does not mean they do not act on the same RECEPTORS in the body.
        Meth, Cocaine and Adderall are all very potent stimulants which act on the same receptor sites in the body.
        Some studies show Adderall much more powerful than street drugs like Cocaine.
        This is a main concern as school nurses and pediatricians reccomend the drug like Vitamin D these days to bored students throughout the public school system.
        “Adderall and cocaine are two powerful stimulant drugs with two very different reputations…
        Currently, about 1.9 million people ages 12 and older actively use cocaine.
        About 1.7 million people in the same age group misuse prescription stimulants.
        Though more use cocaine, the number dropped compared to past years.
        The rates of prescription stimulant misuse continue rising.”
        Although it will not influence the weather we will have to deal with “Generation Adderall” for many years to come.

      • Steve Stein,

        [Chemical similarities, physiological parallels of Adderall and cocaine] is a main concern as school nurses and pediatricians recommend [Adderall] like Vitamin D these days to bored students throughout the public school system.

        I’m 100% with you Steve, that behavioral variation in kids is not some God-given excuse to unleash Better Living Through Chemistry, upon the nation’s schools … or private families.

        I think BLTC goes back to Eugenics. It found a Sponsor, in government and other authorities. Timothy Leary, who developed & promoted LSD, was pursuing BLTC, and cultivating sponsoring institutions.

        That was ca 1960, and he was at that time carrying forward a long-established ‘tradition’. [Launched by Francis Galton, Charles Darwin’s cousin and the founder of Eugenics, late 1800s.] [Leary’s drug-addled brain may have induced him to miscalculate Harvard’s attitudes … and they booted him.]

        BLTC is all about the lure or vision, of making people better … and inevitably, of making better people. (That’s 2 things, related but different.) Fortunately, from our perspective, this idea of Improving people, by breeding or by ‘intervention’ has thoroughly soiled itself, particularly in the case of Eugenics.

        This is the last word in the argument about Abortion. Ultimately, it’s a Eugenics project. In the case of Planned Parenthood, explicitly. People who can’t manage to control their reproduction (the message is) … aren’t fit to reproduce, and we should help them prevent it!

        But … to be a success, to be the Winner here … 1.) “Nurses and pediatricians” aren’t usually scurrilous, slimy people. 2.) There are criteria used to ID eg, ADHD – with which I & others and maybe you do take exception – and to then prescribe Therapeutic medicinal regimes … so these low-level school health professions are ‘working by the Book’. They’re not just wingin’ it.

        School health people do typically ‘buy into’ the unstated assumptions & unstated goals of that Book … that at the end of a glorious Better Living Through Chemistry rainbow, there really is a shining pot of Improved Humanity gold. Like with Greta Thunberg, we think, nominally accept, that they’re sincere.

        Without the Nazis & Hitler, it’s an open question where we’d be with Eugenics, today.

        Perhaps Alaska’s enduring claim to fame, is the status it accords the Individual …

      • Steve,

        Nobody is saying you can’t reply to anyone on this site as far as I can see. I’m just pointing out that on yet another article about the weather and the climate you are avoiding the subject matter at hand because it doesn’t fit your chosen narrative.

        You said “Adderall is chemically no different than meth or cocaine” that is incorrect. These drugs no doubt act on some receptors in similar ways which ends up leading to addiction but they aren’t the same and certainly aren’t chemically identical. Adderall is an amphetamine similar to meth but they are chemically distinct. Cocaine is completely different than Adderall or meth and do not act on all the exact receptors as amphetamines. I also have no doubt that forcing amphetamines on our children during their formative years is a huge problem, look no further than the vast majority of school shooters. School shooters are overwhelmingly users of prescribed amphetamines, frequently they stopped taking their drugs cold turkey before they commit their crimes. But none of this has anything to do with the temperature or climate in Alaska.

    • Steve Stein,

      Yes; flinching, twitching, nervous-wreck kids is a News Story.

      It culminates at University, where self-radicalized professors, demanded by institutionally-radicalized administrators, whip anxiety-ridden high school kids fresh from home, into newly-independent young adults … with significant psycho-emotional disturbances.

      At least at home, parents could semi-ride herd on the problem. But on the first visit home for holidays … parents hit the Panic Button.

      So what to do? Same thing we did about Viet Nam: pull the damn budget-plug! All across the country, states are chopping University budgets … because parent-citizens are giving elected officials the slit-throat sign. “Cut the budget! Shut ’em down!”.

      Guess who’s a favorite poster-child in this News Story? That’s right … Gov. Dunleavy and your very own Real Alaska.

      Cold outside? You_have_no_idea.

  6. Hot or cold…..wx/climate doing what wx/climate has always done for 4 BILLION YEARS!!!
    Not sure I can lose sleep overs CO2 levels that are currently the same level as 3 million years ago.
    But, nice try. As my good friend Greta would say – “how dare you, you’ve stolen my childhood”…..
    Those poor saps under 30, suicidal over “climate anxiety”.
    Guess what youngins, go out and enjoy life. The sun will still rise and set, you will still be able to ski both on water and snow, and you will still have the 4 seasons. Once you reach 80, you will flop over dead, but not from Global Warming. I can guarantee that. So, drink some more Maalox, take your Xanax, and stop sweating the small stuff.

  7. Winning at science is somewhat like winning in court. It’s partly about having a good case, yeah-sure, but it’s always critical to know the negatives. That is, if you don’t want to come up holding the intellectual (and political) Darwin Award.

    You might represent Ms. Sympathetic against Mr. Dastardly in a very compelling, heavily supported case with many cooperative witnesses (consensus), but if on the crucial evening of the supposed transgression Mr. D has video of himself at the stadium watching the NFL game … the case for Ms. S falls apart.

    The negatives work to break otherwise good (even beloved) science-ideas so regularly, there is a formal nomenclature & cute sayings for it. Consensus is not your science-friend.

    “A grand and beautiful Theory, destroyed by a tawdry and ugly fact.” Falsification.

    Anthropogenic Global Warming leans mainly on CO2. Simple science is good science, but…

    During the 20th C, fossil energy use increased rapidly, releasing carbon into the atmosphere. However, temperatures did not follow suit, per the Theory. Instead, in the later Post-War period it started getting noticeably cooler. Then during the 1970s, no doubt about it, it was downright – worryingly – Cold.

    How does that align with the carbon-caused warming-theory? It doesn’t.

    There is other video of Mr. D, on the day, evening & night of the supposed offense against Ms. S. He went clam-digging on an afternoon tide. He visited the University astronomy department after the game, where the big telescope was holding public-viewing night. He stayed at a State campground, where he’d reserved a site. By himself.

    Excess carbon is rapidly removed from the atmosphere. We know this, because every year it rises and then falls again, as conditions for natural production of the gas vary rhythmically. (Human emissions also vary annual, but it’s so small compared to natural sources, it’s within the margin of error.)

    Fossil-type carbon (used to claim that rising CO2 levels represent pumped oil) is emitted naturally … and we are finding – Oh wow! – in larger & larger amounts. You can tell fossil carbon, because it isn’t radioactive. Radio-carbon has a half-life of ~5,000 years … so gases from volcanoes, from underseas seeps, and from warming tundra organic matter all look the same as carbon that humans pumped from ancient oil reserves & burned in cars.

    The 800 pound greenhouse-effect gorilla is water-vapor (humidity), and clouds & fog. Very tough to Model … and worse, it cuts both ways, causing both warming & cooling!

    No, out of respect for my record & reputation both defending & prosecuting science-cases, I couldn’t represent Mr. Sympathetic, if she was a friend of the family … which in fact she is, long-time.

    • Ted,

      There are still some actual scientists out there doing actual climate science. This paper discusses how low cloud cover is simply disregarded by the IPCC, even though it explains the slight warming that we’ve seen over the last four decades.

      We know that the Earth’s magnetic poles shift over time, and we’ve been seeing an unprecedented shifting of the magnetic North Pole in the past decade plus. When the magnetic field weakens it allows more cosmic rays to penetrate, and there is a link between increased cosmic rays and low cloud cover.

      There’s not much money to be made by the magnetic poles shifting and weakening allowing cosmic rays to penetrate the magnetosphere causing increased low cloud cover, you can’t even play politics with a finding like that. If the idea is to never let a crisis go to waste, the way some suggest, and there is nothing you can do about what is happening, then creating a crisis is the next best thing.

    • Steve,

      It’s great to see this brand-new paper taking up clouds and other contrarian climate factors. That this out of Finland, is all the better.

      The cloud-problem is probably manageable, just going with an observational & empirical approach. With longer-term records, something will eventually come into focus, for a Theoretical treatment … but in the meantime pragmatics have served Nature & humans well-enough, eh?

      The instability of the earth’s magnetic field/poles is fascinating stuff. Just what kind of stuff, we await to fully discover. [Is there a relations between pole-flipping/instability, and the creation of ‘large igneous provinces’?] But yes, the poles & magnetism extend far out into space, modify the effects of incoming ionic radiation, create the auroras, and who knows what-all.

      Great to see real scientists doing real science!

Leave a Reply