Warm Petersburg summer ties heat record


Blue skies and warm days enveloped Petersburg like seine nets to pink salmon this summer as the Southeast saw temperatures above and rainfall below average.

According to National Weather Service Data, the temperature on August 1 reached 83 degrees tying the warmest day ever recorded in Petersburg and breaking August 22, 2004’s 82-degree record high.

Summer temperatures remained consistently warm across the region. Petersburg saw daily average temperatures in June and August reach three degrees above normal. And through September 15, average daily highs soared to more than seven degrees above normal.

“That doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s actually a pretty big deal,” said Rick Fritsch, Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Juneau.

Fritsch said you can’t hang your hat on climate change when analyzing one summer’s worth of weather. But when you step back and compare one seasonal snippet with others across a 30-year period of time, trends start to develop. And it’s clear that average temperatures across Southeast are slowly climbing. Although, Fritsch said, those rising trends are more dramatic during winter months.

“Anywhere where the climate trend has been warmer we see more precipitation in any given place,” Fritsch said. “We’ve been seeing more precipitation throughout the year as compared to the previous 30 year normal climate period between 1971-2000.”

In Juneau, for instance, thunderstorms developed over three days compared to the average of one every other year.

Increased precipitation hasn’t been the case in Petersburg this summer however. From May to August, 19.44 inches of rain fell compared to 23.27 those four months are used to seeing.

“If these trends continue through the winter it could have some impact on hydro electricity,” Fritsch said.

Joe Nelson, Petersburg Power Superintendent said the Crystal Lake reservoir is lower than normal but hasn’t reached a critical stage at this point.

“If we would go back to normal precipitation between now and the middle of December we would refill,” Nelson said.

Fritsch is looking at, among several other variables, sea temperatures of the equatorial Pacific to the Gulf of Alaska as he prepares this week for a winter weather forecast.


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