Nome breaks two temperature records in October
The start of October has been unseasonably warm for Nome and many areas of western Alaska. Last week, Nome broke two record-high temperatures.
Christopher Clarke of the National Weather Service in Nome reported that the record high broke on October 11 with 52°F. The original record was 51°F in 1979. The record was also broken the following day with 59°F on October 12. The original record was 58°F in 1937.
Clarke told the Nome Nugget that it’s not unusual to have mid-fifties through mid-October, but generally after mid-October the area won’t see anything higher than the forties. Clarke says while it’s been definitely warmer than usual, the temperatures are not outside of the realm of possibilities.
Looking at the past 100 years of temperature data, an October 1 average high temperature falls at 42°F and a mid-October 14 average high falls in the mid-30s°F.
Clarke reports that data for October 1-13 shows record temperatures all in the fifties, the most of which are pretty old records. Clarke said that by October 17, he doesn’t see any records more than 49°F. “So if we are hitting the 50’s after the seventeenth of October, something is definitely unusual,” said Clarke.
Rick Thoman, Climate Science and Services Manager for the National Weather Service, Western Alaska Region reported to the Nome Nugget that this has been a very warm start to October for not just Nome, but all of western Alaska, breaking records from the Alaska Peninsula to the Seward Peninsula and even up in Barrow.
Thoman says that the first reason for the warm temperatures is a high pressure that is packed over the eastern interior region, and the second reason is because the Bering Sea surface temperatures are unusually mild. Another reason for the warmer temperatures is that there is no appreciable snow yet, which Thoman remarks is not terribly unusual along the coast this time of year.
Although warmer temperatures in October are not unusual and one record-breaking day does not say a lot, Thoman says that there has been a trend over the past three years for most of western Alaska with temperatures well above normal. In the context of that larger view and longer time span, Thoman says the increase in temperatures is really quite remarkable.
As of press time on Monday, the National Weather Service’s Alaska Sea Ice program and it’s daily sea ice concentration analysis show that Chukchi and Beaufort Seas are ice free and that open water is surrounding Alaska to the north and west. There is young sea ice forming nearly 70 nautical miles north of the North Slope, but the main ice pack is still more than 200 nautical miles north of the Alaskan shoreline.