Ah, another day, another incomprehensible temperature record. This time, the unwanted accolade goes to Alaska, which set a statewide temperature record for December just days before the end of the year, according to the National Weather Service. The Kodiak Tide gauge recorded temperatures for the state hovering at 67 degrees Fahrenheit, a number one would expect in early autumn New York during non-doom times.
More alarming still were the daily temperatures set in particular Alaskan locales. Kodiak Airport, located in Kodiak Station, recorded temperatures of 65 degrees Fahrenheit, 9 degrees higher than the station’s previous all-time high. Kodiak City also shattered its own single-day record by a jaw-dropping 20 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. To put that in perspective, in addition to setting the December record, the 65 degrees seen in Kodiak was the highest on record for the city for any day in November, January, February, or March. Cold Bay, a small town in the Alaska Peninsula, meanwhile beat its own daily record by 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
All of this rising heat has had the secondary effect of dumping torrents of rain across the state. Last month, a storm dropped one of the top-four heaviest two days of rainfall recorded in the state, The Washington Post reports. Worse still, the water melted snow on the ground as roadway surfaces were still at a subzero temperature, which has caused ice to bond to the surface of roads. This, in effect, acts like cement layered on roadways, according to Alaska’s Department of Transportation, which has warned of dangerous driving conditions throughout the state.
Alaska’s records mark a fitting end to what has been an absolutely sweltering year in the U.S. overall. Heat records have been set across seemingly every region, making the U.S. map of heat records resemble a frantic scatterplot. Some of the most dramatic heat waves occurred this summer, which was the hottest on record since the 1936 Dust Bowl.
In the Pacific Northwest, unprecedented heat entering the triple digits literally melted critical infrastructure and warped roads. The Pacific Northwest, both the Canadian and U.S. sides, saw all-time heat records set with alarming regularity. More recently, Montana, North Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming all set their own single-day December heat records. During the first week of December, the National Weather Service estimated as much as a third of the continental U.S. experienced highs over 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
This record heat led to downright absurd holiday conditions. According to AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Anderson via The Guardian, Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Little Rock, and Memphis were all on track to match their record highs on Christmas Day. Wichita Falls, a small town in Texas, even managed to hit 91 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas Eve.