Alaska Temperatures Hit ‘Absurd’ Record December Highs

by Clayton Edwards

Some regions of the United States are seeing unusually high temperatures this month. However, in some of those regions, mild-to-warm winters are almost expected. For instance, many Southern states saw temps in the 60s and 70s on Christmas Day. Surprisingly, Alaska is also seeing record highs this December.

When most people think of Alaska, they don’t think about record highs in December. They think of snow, ice, bears, and the stunning natural beauty of the state. This year, though, Alaska’s temperatures are comparable to what you’d find on a nice spring day elsewhere in the country. According to Reuters, some regions of the state are seeing temps in the mid-to-high 60s.

For instance, the island of Kodiak, Alaska had record highs this month. The temp soared to 67 degrees the day after Christmas. Rick Thoman, a scientist with the Alaska Cater for Climate Assessment and Policy, said this is the warmest December ever recorded in the state. Thoman called the current temperatures in The Last Frontier “absurd.”

Kodiak isn’t the only place in Alaska seeing record highs. Cold Bay, a community on the state’s peninsula, saw a record temperature of 62 degrees. Additionally, Unalaska, an Aleutian town, logged the highest Christmas Day temperature ever recorded in the state. The high that day was 56 degrees.

Alaska’s Record Highs Are Causing Icy Roads

As the trend of higher temps continues, it will affect the state’s overall ecosystem. However, for now, Alaska’s record highs are causing hazardous driving conditions. The high temperatures also brought heavy rainfall. That rain is turning to ice and binding with the surface of the road as well as powerlines and homes. They’re calling it Icemageddon.

Usually, December is a relatively dry month in Alaska. Whatever precipitation they get usually turns into fluffy, powdery snow because the air is so cold. This year, though, things are different. They’re getting more precipitation and it’s coming down either rain or heavy snow followed by torrential rain. Because the surface temperature in the state is still below freezing, the rain and snow combine to form a dense sheet of ice.

On the roads, the ice forms a concrete-like coating. More importantly, the ice bonds to the surface of the roads. This makes it nearly impossible to remove. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities announced that many roads will remain hazardous for quite a while. Right now, there’s nothing they can do for much of the state.

Richard Thoman said that Alaska’s record highs and the severe weather they bring aren’t all that surprising. “This is exactly what we expect in a warming world,” he told Reuters. Over the past two decades, Alaska has seen bursts of warm wet weather in the winter. This just happens to be the worst yet.