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Dang! It Feels Hot!

Updated: Oct 9, 2022

When the temperatures in Anchorage reach 70 degrees and higher, it is considered hot. I don’t remember a May where the weather has been this nice and warm for such a stretch of time. I checked with the local weather sites and it’s true: May has shattered temperature records in many places across the State. Normally, Anchorage usually hits 70 only a dozen times a summer and rarely reaches 80. In May and the first week of June 2022, 70 has already been exceeded ten times.

It has often been said that it feels much hotter here at 70 degrees than it does in the “lower 48”. Turns out, this is true! According to climate scientist, Brian Brettshneider, elevated temperatures feel hotter in Alaska than at lower latitudes. Because it’s lower in the sky, the sun’s rays hit a larger portion of a person’s full torso, heating up more of the body.

The low sun angle exposes most of your body to direct sunlight. An observer in Louisiana wearing a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat at midday can block most of the direct solar radiation from reaching their torso. Since the sun is nearly overhead, the hat blocks most of the energy. In contrast, the sun never rises more than 47° above the horizon north of the Arctic Circle. This means the sun's rays are shining on whichever half of your body is facing the sun whether you have a hat on or not. That direct sunlight raises the apparent temperature by 10 -20°F.

And homes in Anchorage get even hotter! Most homes do not have air conditioning. Unless windows are opened and fans deployed, most buildings get hot. Houses in Alaska were built to keep heat inside. When the temperatures rise, the homes do an excellent job of keeping heat inside. The low angle of the sun and 19+ hours of daylight really pack in the solar input!

But this beautiful weather comes at a cost. Anchorage has a dry climate and this weather, coupled with breezy conditions make the fire danger extremely high. There are currently burn bans in Anchorage (sorry, no fire pit at Eden on E Street until further notice) and an awful lot of rain will have to fall to change that anytime soon. In the meantime, be safe and enjoy the weather!

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