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Anchorage Breaks Heat Records


Anchorage, Alaska, surrounded by glacier-topped mountains, is used to cool overcast summers, but not this year. On the Fourth of July, for the first time since records have been kept there, the temperature hit 90 degrees. Tracy Sinclair's a meteorologist at Channel 2 News in Anchorage and joins us to talk about it. Good morning.

TRACY SINCLAIR: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Now, this didn't just break the record. It sounds like it's shattered it.

SINCLAIR: Yeah, the previous record was 85 degrees, and it hit 90 degrees on July Fourth, which was crazy.

MONTAGNE: Crazy. Now, when you say the highest previous record was 85 degrees, well, that's not - you know, OK, 85 degrees. But really - really - it's never close to 90 degrees there, right?

SINCLAIR: No, and to be honest, when we get into the 80s, people start taking off work because this is hot. This is, you know, incredible summer weather. We have to go enjoy it. And then so to make the jump up to 90 degrees was watercooler talk. Everybody - that's all you're talking about is how hot it got. Did you hear it got to 90 degrees? So this is a big deal for us.

MONTAGNE: Do you have air conditioning up there in Anchorage?

SINCLAIR: Most people don't in their homes. The office buildings do, naturally, but your regular home, my home doesn't. So I had to open windows. I have one little, tiny fan. You cannot find a fan on the shelves in stores in Anchorage. They're all bought up. As soon as they get some in, every store says they go out within an hour.

MONTAGNE: Well, how about the land around you? How prepared is it? I mean, I gather there are fires.

SINCLAIR: There are. It's been a very dry summer. We had the wettest May on record, but then we had the driest June on record. So since June 1, we've only had 0.06 inches of rain in Anchorage. So everything is turning pretty crispy. And we've got a pretty big fire down on the Kenai, which is blowing smoke into the Anchorage area. And then we've got a fire north in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. And then we've got fires dotted across the state.

MONTAGNE: Well, northern Alaska has seen dramatic effects of climate change - thawing permafrost, we've seen that decreasing arctic ice. Is this heat wave part of that bigger trend?

SINCLAIR: I think it is. We're definitely seeing warmer-than-normal conditions. Like, the 90-degree temperature is 25 degrees above our average. Our average for this time of year is 65 degrees. And just in the last 10 days, we had six record-high temperatures. So not just this year, but overall, the trend for Anchorage and all of Alaska is a steady increase and a steady warming.

MONTAGNE: What is the forecast then for the next, say, few days?

SINCLAIR: We're expecting temperatures to stay in the 80s probably through Monday. And there's really no rain in the forecast, at least for the next seven days. So we're in this situation - dry, crispy - for at least a week, probably closer to 10 days.

MONTAGNE: Tracy Sinclair, meteorologist at Channel 2 News in Anchorage, Alaska, thanks for joining us.

SINCLAIR: Thank you.