Slipping and Sliding

Slipping and sliding into the summer.

High temperatures this month are rewriting the record books in Kodiak.

A high temperature of 86 degrees was observed Friday, tying the all-time high temperature recorded on June 28, 1953. 

As of Sunday, Kodiak had experienced a 14-day run of temperatures exceeding 70 degrees, smashing the previous record of consecutive days above 70 degrees, a 10-day streak observed in June 1953.

Daily records were set on Aug. 15, 16 and 17. On Thursday, a record-high temperature of 80 degrees was set, breaking the previous record of 74 set in 2004. The 86-degree temperature recorded on Friday breaks the previous daily record of 78, also set in 2004.  The temperature of 74 degrees recorded on Saturday tied the temperatures recorded in 1999 and 1944. 

According to Lucas Boyer, a meteorologist with the Anchorage office of the National Weather Service, a number of factors aligned to create unusually high temperatures in Kodiak, including a high-pressure ridge and offshore winds. Above-average ocean temperatures also contributed to Kodiak’s warm weather, since the ocean usually moderates air temperatures, Boyer said. 

As of Aug. 15, ocean temperatures measured off the Alaska coast were 4 to 6 degrees warmer than temperatures observed historically, Boyer said. Water temperatures around Kodiak are around 54 degrees, he said. 

In addition to abnormally hot weather, The Rock has experienced a long dry spell, though Boyer said the island’s dryness is not record-breaking.

Since June 21, Kodiak has seen 42 days without any rain, out of a total of 58 days. But with rain expected today, Kodiak’s current dry spell will not break records.

The total cumulative rainfall in June was 3.29 inches, significantly more than the record low 0.67 inches recorded in 1997. In July, Kodiak received 2.57 inches of rain. The record low rainfall for July was set in 1936, with 0.76 inches of rain. 

So far, there has been no rain in August. However, with rain predicted in the coming week, Kodiak is expected to exceed the record-low rainfall of 0.67 set in 1987 and 1994. 

“Kodiak can get some heavy rain events. Statistically speaking, it’s going to be hard (to break the record),” Boyer said. “It’s pretty easy to pick up an inch of rain.” 

Boyer said Kodiakans can expect some relief this week, with daily temperatures staying below 70 degrees and chances of precipitation increasing.

At Thursday’s Kodiak Island Borough Assembly meeting, Bayside Volunteer Fire Department Chief Howard Rue and Womens Bay Fire Department Chief Dave Conrad cautioned residents about fire risks given Kodiak’s dry conditions.

Rue said he will work with Kodiak City Fire Department Chief and Kodiak Fire Marshal James Mullican about providing clear instructions to Kodiak residents in the future. 

Mullican did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I think for the safety of everybody right now, we’re going to hold a burn ban,” Rue said. “I would like to ask the public to be very considerate of burning right now. It is terribly terribly dry. I’m going to continue to work with Dave (Conrad) and Chief Mullican so we can get the correct information out.”

Rue clarified that small bonfires are allowed, but burning construction debris is not. 

“I’m going to urge the citizens to be extremely cautious,” Conrad said at Thursday’s meeting. “We’re the guys that have to go out and get after these fires.”

Outside of Kodiak, numerous large fires are burning in Southcentral Alaska, leading to closures on the Sterling Highway in the Kenai Peninsula and prompting a statement from Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Monday.

“We’re asking everyone to be careful with regards to campfires and cooking outdoors,” the governor said in a video posted on his Facebook page. “There is a very high fire danger.”

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