By Laura Dattaro
10 June 2015
(Vice) – The United States' snowiest wilderness just keeps getting warmer.
Temperatures in Alaska averaged 44.9 degrees Fahrenheit this May, making it the warmest May in the 91-year temperature record of the state, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data released today.
And that's a remarkable 7.1 degrees higher than the 20th-century average.
"Really since June of 2013, it's been very persistently warm with lots of records," Rick Thoman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Alaska, told VICE News. "So this is kind of just another one in this two-year streak."
The last record-breaking May was in 2005, when the average temperature climbed to 43.7 degrees.
Temperature records are usually broken by fractions of a degree, Thoman said, making this May's level even more extreme.
"They tend to be, when you have a warmest, they only just barely exceed the previous warmest," Thoman told VICE News. "But that's not the case in Alaska. This is by far, by over a degree, the warmest May, and that is a huge amount to have a warmest."
Alaska's persistent warm weather has broken several records in recent years, and not just for temperatures, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist with NOAA who authored the report.
The first five months of this year were the second-warmest on record, just slightly under 2014, which was Alaska's warmest year ever recorded.
Across the state, 2015 saw the lowest May snow-cover extent on record, dropping 161,000 square miles below average, about the size of California. In Anchorage, a record-low 25.1 inches of snow fell from September 2014 through May 2015. The 30-year average is nearly three times that high. [more]