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article imageBaked-Alaska — Anchorage swelters under record-breaking heat

By Karen Graham     Jul 5, 2019 in Environment
Anchorage - The temperature at Ted Stevens International Airport reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit at about 5 p.m. Thursday, crushing a 50-year record in Anchorage, Alaska.
Because of the extreme heat, the city of Anchorage, Alaska, canceled its July 4 fireworks. The Anchorage Fire Department put out a burn ban and said that any use of fireworks could result in a fine, reports The Hill.
The National Weather Service says it recorded a temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit at the city's airport Thursday, smashing the previous record of 85 degrees, set on June 14, 1969, the Anchorage Daily News reports.
The National Weather Service says Alaska can “expect record or near-record high temperatures each day,” through July 8. The current record in Alaska’s largest city could even be surpassed over several days, according to Brian Brettschneider, a climate researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, reports NBC News.
“It’s entirely possible that the warmest temperature ever recorded in Anchorage could be exceeded three to five days in a row,” Brettschneider said. “That’s the definition of unusual.” The heat is being caused by a high-pressure ridge blanketing the area.
“Air is being pushed and squeezed into one location and you end up with a mass of air that weighs more and sinks,” Brettschneider said. “That sinking motion keeps it sunny because it prevents clouds from forming, and it actually pushes warm temperatures down to the surface.”
Rick Thoman, a climatologist based in Fairbanks, said climate change is likely also playing a role. “These kinds of extreme weather events become much more likely in a warming world,” Thoman said.
“Climate change is not causing it, but it is contributing to it. When other pieces line up like high pressure over the state and very warm sea surface temperatures, all the pieces fit together and make these extreme, or even unprecedented, events that much more likely."
“Our houses are built to hold warmth in because we’re a winter state, not a summer state,” Brettschneider said. “We don’t have central air conditioning, so we rely on it cooling off at night to get relief. But we also have 19 hours of daylight right now, so imagine 19 hours of the sun just beating against the windows.”
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