This weekend, Kodiak Island broke the record for the warmest December temperature in the state. The Kodiak Tide Gauge station on the east side of the island recorded 67 degrees on Sunday. That balmy high comes after one of the coldest Novembers on record for the island.
“It was a very rare occurrence,” said Tim Markle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage. “This is really due to a really strong kind of warm ridge of high pressure that was just sitting just to the southwest of Kodiak, and very warm temperatures aloft and that, combined with those westerly winds along the mountains right along the spine of the island.”
Those downsloping winds compress and warm as they come off the mountains. The entire Alaskan Peninsula saw near record highs this weekend. Kodiak’s Benny Benson Airport also set its own December record of 65 degrees on Sunday.
This weekend’s warm weather comes after Kodiak Island experienced what meteorologists say could have been its coldest November on record – measuring equipment on the island was broken for the first nine days of the month. Data for the rest of the month shows temperature swings between 2 and 24 degrees below normal.
Markle says record-breaking events like 60-degree weather in December can’t be directly linked to climate change, but it does increase the likelihood of extreme temperature swings.
“Things are just becoming much more variable,” he said. “We’re kind of seeing that a little bit with the pattern we’ve been in with a very cold, almost record-breaking November followed by record-breaking warmth across the state at least for the month of December.”
Weather models say colder weather will move in near the end of the week.