Friday, December 27, 2013

Maximum Statewide Temperature Range

There have been several references in social media the last few days  (here and here) regarding the range of temperatures across the state approaching 100 degrees. I thought it would be interesting to see what the greatest daily temperature range was in the Alaska climate record. The winner appears to be February 3rd, 1977, with a statewide temperature range of 125°F. The high temperature was +60°F at Annette Island and the low temperature was -65°F at Umiat. There are 5 or 6 days in the GHCN database with larger ranges but they all contain highly questionable values; e.g., a max high of +73°F with the second highest of +45°F. None of those instances were even marginal so they were easy to toss out. No more than 4 days have ever had a daily range of over 120°F.

I initially expected the record range day to fall in mid February to early March since the far northerly latitudes receive little insolation and the stations in Southeast Alaska receive a fair amount. What surprised me was that December and January are the months most likely to see a day with a statewide diurnal range in excess on 110°F.

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