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Fairbanks marks another heat record, but rain is on the way

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013 12:00 am

FAIRBANKS — It’s hard to deny it has been hot and dry in Fairbanks this summer, and statistics released by the National Weather Service are showing just how hot it has been.

The temperature has reached 85 degrees more times this summer than any year since the weather service began recording consistently in 1930.

Since May 1, temperatures have reached 85 degrees 11 times. The most recent occurred Sunday.

Monday didn’t quite make it to 85 degrees, but it did hit 80 for the 25th time this summer.

Fairbanks meteorologist Rick Thoman, who works for the National Weather Service, said this summer has been warmer than average. Adding to the daytime heat, the nights have been uncharacteristically warm.

“We’ve had quite a few days that have remained quite warm at night, and that’s somewhat unusual for Fairbanks,” Thoman said.

So far this season, 12 days have stayed 60 degrees or higher throughout the night. That number is only surpassed by 1975.

Nighttime lows in Fairbanks typically fall into the 50-degree range, Thoman said.

Not only has Fairbanks been hot — it’s been dry, too. Less than an inch of rain has fallen in Fairbanks since May 1. The normal rainfall for that time-frame is nearly three times higher, at 2.87 inches, making this the third driest summer on record for that period of time.

That might be about to change. A high pressure system over the Gulf of Alaska could bring quite a bit of rain into the Interior, and soon.

“It’s unlikely we’ll make it to the weekend and not have had any more rain,” Thoman said. “As often happens this time of year, we’re moving into a cooler and eventually wetter pattern.”

Weather systems moving inland from the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean could hit the Alaska Range with heavy rain all the way through the weekend, according to the weather service. The Alaska Range could see several inches of rain in the next few days alone.

The increased rainfall could result in rivers and streams throughout the range rising and possibly flooding. The weather service advised that anyone in the Alaska Range prepare for high water and floods throughout the weekend.

The rainfall in Fairbanks, though greater than recent weeks, is expected to be more mellow than in the mountains.

Even with the temperature dropping and rain on the way, Thoman said, the weather still could return to a hot and dry pattern.

“We definitely don’t want to give the impression that summer’s over,” Thoman said, “because we have no reason to think that.”

By the numbers

• Fairbanks has never before had this many days with temperatures of 85 degrees or higher. So far this year, Fairbanks has seen 11 days where temperatures reached 85. That's more than three times the average.

• Nights also have been warmer than normal:

Number of nights temps never fell below 60 degrees: 12

Only 1975 had more.

• Rainfall has been low:

Inches of rainfall since May 1: 0.98

Average: 2.87

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