Cumulative acres burned to date (1 July 2015) in Alaska in 2015 and 2004. This graph illustrates how similar this fire season has been compared to the record-setting year of 2004 when 6,590,140 acres burned in Alaska. Graphic: Alaska Forest Service / Facebook

By Angela Fritz
2 July 2015

(Washington Post) – Hot and dry conditions in Alaska have been toppling records over the past few months — many of which have been held for decades. And now, with two million acres burned already, 2015 appears well on its way to becoming the worst fire season on record for the state.

In May, Alaska saw a 90-degree day earlier in the season than ever recorded, when the small town of Eagle, 200 miles east of Fairbanks, soared to 91 degrees. In May. In Alaska. The month also went down in the annals of weather history as the warmest May on record for the entire state, as well as nine of Alaska’s major climate reporting stations. That list includes Barrow — the northernmost city in the entire United States, bounded to the north by the Arctic Ocean.

Surely things turned the corner in June, right? Wrong. Anchorage saw its warmest day on record on June 17, with a high of 83 degrees, breaking the previous all-time record of 82 set in 1969. It was the warmest June on record in Anchorage and Barrow.

It's official! #Anchorage officially sets lowest seasonal snowfall record with 25.1 inches for 2014-2015 on 2 July 2015. #akwx pic.twitter.com/bjZCj4tmN3 Graphic: NWS Anchorage

And then on Tuesday, Anchorage officially ended its least snowy year on record. Snow years are measured from July 1 to June 30 in order to ensure that all flakes are accounted for — but this year there wasn’t much to account for in Anchorage. […]

Now much of Alaska is abnormally dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, conditions which have fueled over 700 wildfires that have ignited — many as result of dry thunderstorm lightning — since the beginning of the season. To-date, fires have burned over two million acres this year. 2004 was previously the worst wildfire season on record, when 6.5 million acres burned across the state. But 2015 is blowing that year out of the water, setting a new record for the month of June by an astonishing 700,00 acres. [more]

As Alaska burns, Anchorage sets new records for heat and lack of snow

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