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Summer 2008 Summary

It is astonishing to see how many days were below normal this summer. In fact, there were 24 consecutive days in July with below normal temperatures. These cool weeks followed the only hint of 70 degree weather seen thus far.

The meteorological summer of 2008 defined by the months of June, July, and August will easily be remembered by everyone for how cool it seemed and for how wet July was. In Anchorage...the average high temperature was 60.9 degrees (3 degrees below normal). The average low temperature was 47.7 degrees (1.9 degrees below normal). The average temperature for the season was 54.3 degrees (2.4 degrees below normal). For the season... 4.80 inches of precipitation were recorded (0.86 inches below normal).

There were only 17 days where temperatures were above normal. That means that only 18% of days this summer were warmer than normal, 5% of the days were considered normal and an astonishing 77% of the days were cooler than normal. The most dramatic stretch occurred in July with 24 consecutive days of below normal temperatures. Anchorage set three records during those cool three weeks as well. Details on the records can be found at the bottom of this article along with a monthly breakdown comparison.

The summer of 2008 saw the fewest 70 degree days in Anchorage throughout recorded history. This graph highlights the top ten years where the fewest 70 degree days were observed. 2008 has only seen two 70 degree days thus far - both of which occurred in early July.

Records at the Anchorage National Weather Service date back to 1917
Anchorage saw only two days reaching at least 70 degrees in 2008*. This falls well below the average and is dramatically different from previous years. Anchorage climatologically sees 70 degrees occurring roughly 16 times a year.

Records at the Anchorage National Weather Service date back to 1917

July was the only month to experience any days with temperatures reaching above 70 degrees. Those temperatures occurred at the beginning of the month and were immediately followed by a long stretch of cool and wet weather. With only two days above 70 degrees this year, that sets a new record for the fewest days to reach 70. The old record was three 70+ degree days set in 1927, 1939 and 1980. 2008 is also drastically different from the last 10 years. The first graphic to the left depicts the top ten years where Anchorage witnessed the fewest 70 degree days. The second graphic details the amount of 70 degree days we've seen over the previous 10 years. Anchorage normally experiences around 16 days reaching at least 70 degrees.


How does this summer compare to previous years?

The summer of 2008 seemed cool...but it is not an all around record cool summer. When looking into the daytime maximum temperature - this summer would rank in as the 3rd coolest on record. What seemed like endless days of cloud cover kept the daytime highs averaging 3 degrees below normal. Inversely, the cloud cover helped to keep overnight temperatures up. The minimum temperatures in the summer of 2008 only ranked in as the 34th coolest on record. The graphics below highlight how the average summer maximum, minimum and average temperatures ranked when compared to previous years. Records at the National Weather Service Office in Anchorage date back to 1917.



Max TempsMin TempsAvg Temps

The average maximum temperature for this summer was ranked 3rd. The top five coolest summer maximums are:

1971: 60.40
1973: 60.87
2008: 60.93
1970: 61.23
1980: 61.30

The high temperatures throughout this summer averaged 3 degrees below the normal.

Records at the Anchorage National Weather Service date back to 1917
The summer lows remained below the normal though they were not record setting. The average minimum temperatures for this summer ranked in at only #34 through the 91 years of recorded observations.

The top five coolest summer minimums are:

1920: 44.03
1949: 45.00
1922: 45.23
1918: 45.37
1948: 45.40
2008: 47.67

The low temperatures throughout this summer averaged roughly 1.9 degrees below the normal.

Records at the Anchorage National Weather Service date back to 1917
The average daily temperature in the summer for 2008 ranked in as the 11th coolest on record.

The top five coolest summer averages are:

1920: 52.70
1949: 53.77
1971: 53.83
1917: 54.00
1932: 54.03
2008: 54.35

The average temperatures throughout this summer averaged roughly 2.4 degrees below the normal.

Records at the Anchorage National Weather Service date back to 1917















What can be expected in the next few months?

September climatologically opens with high temperatures around 60 and overnight lows in the middle 40s. By the end of the month the average high typically reaches the upper 40s with lows around the middle 30s. What are the odds that we could potentially hit 70 degrees in September? Unfortunately the odds are not in our favor to reach 70 degrees. Since 1917 there have only been 17 times in September that have reached or exceeded 70 degrees. Two of those times happened in the same year. October is when temperatures start to really drop. Highs by the end of October typically are around the lower 30s with lows dipping down to the lower 20s.

The first fall frost is around the corner as well. The average first frost, where our minimum temperature falls below 32 degrees, is around September 18th. The earliest frost on record occurred on August 14th, 1946 while the latest occurred on October 16th, 1969.




...............Summer Climate Breakdown...............

June

			Actual		Normal		Deviation
Max Temperature		58.9°F		62.5°F		  -3.6°F	
Min Temperature		45.5°F		47.2°F		  -1.7°F
Avg Temperature		52.2°F		54.9°F		  -2.7°F
Precipitation		0.63"		1.05"		  -0.42"

July

			Actual		Normal		Deviation
Max Temperature		61.7°F		65.6°F		  -3.9°F	
Min Temperature		49.0°F		51.9°F		  -2.9°F
Avg Temperature		55.4°F		58.7°F		  -3.3°F
Precipitation		3.25"		1.69"		   1.56"

August

			Actual		Normal		Deviation
Max Temperature		62.2°F		63.5°F		  -1.3°F
Min Temperature		48.5°F		49.7°F		  -1.2°F
Avg Temperature		55.3°F		56.6°F		  -1.3°F
Precipitation		0.92"		2.92"		  -2.00"



...............Summer Climate Records...............

Record Type	  	Date		Value	Old Record & Year

Low Maximum Temperature	July 23		53°F	55°F 	/ 1954
Low Maximum Temperature	July 17		56°F	TIE 	/ 1991..1959..1945..1917
24 Hour Precipitation	July 17		1.00"	0.74"	/ 1928



What is a normal and how does that differ from an average?

The scientific community defines a normal as the average of any element (Temperature - Precipitation - Snowfall - etc) over a 30 year interval. The 30 year interval is long enough to filter out short-term fluctuations and anomalies but is short enough to reflect longer term climatic trends. The current 30 year interval for calculating normals is calculated from 1971 through 2000. New climatic normals will be computed globally in 2011 and will be comprised of information spanning from 1981 through 2010. Further information regarding climate normals and how they are computed are available from the National Climatic Data Center. An average is the central tendency or 'middle' number of any dataset. Throughout this web-writeup there have been references to both the 'normal' and 'average'. The normal strictly refers to the 1971-2000 records for Anchorage as defined by the National Climatic Data Center. The average refers to any specified amount of time. Values were averaged monthly, seasonally and throughout the period of record.


Monthly normals and other statistics can be found through NOAA's NOWData Online Weather Page at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/xmacis.php?wfo=pafc. Data found within the Anchorage National Weather Service is to be considered preliminary and subject to further quality control. Data provided by the National Climatic Data Center is considered finalized and is the only official data source for climate data.





Shea 03.SEP.08





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