Record heat wave hits Valdez, other parts of Alaska
Ruth Pond and other hot spots crowded with those seeking relief from heat
Valdez Star Photo
Ruth Pond was a hotspot in Valdez Monday as temperatures hit a record breaking 90 degrees in late afternoon. These youngsters used inflatable boats to slide down the pond’s grassy slopes to make a big splash into the water.
Yep, it hit 90 degrees in Valdez Monday afternoon, setting an all-time heat record.
“The record record,” Wendy Zwickl said with amazement at 3 p.m. in the afternoon when the mercury crept up to 89 degrees. “So awesome.”
Zwickl, a meteorological technician for the Valdez office of the National Weather Service, thought it might get even hotter.
It did. At a little after 4 p.m. she recorded 90 degrees at the agency’s official monitoring site. This shattered the previous record for any other day of the year in Valdez.
This is in addition to breaking heat records for that date. Weather service records say that the warmest temperature ever recorded in Valdez on June 17 was 75 degrees, back in 1997. That summer 16 years ago broke numerous records.
Breaking away from the normally dry descriptions of climate conditions, Tuesday morning’s public information statement regarding Monday’s heat said “Sun-worshipers were out in force through mid to late evening hours..as the temperature at 10 p.m. was still an astounding 77 degrees.”
In its record event report Monday night, the weather service said DOT also documented record heat along the Richardson Highway.
A sweltering 90 degrees was also recorded just before 5 p.m. at Mile 12. DOT recorded an even hotter temperature – 93 degrees-at its monitoring station at 19 Mile according to the weather service.
“Although we only have data as far back as just after the turn of this century…these values represent the site extremes since their installation,” the report said.
Valdez Star Photo
Wendy Zwickl, meteorological technician for the Valdez office of the National Weather Service, as she verified Monday’s record-breaking high temperature of 90 degrees.
Tourists in Valdez laughed at pasty-skinned Alaskans seen sweating it out during the heat wave, turning tables on the town’s residents, who often snicker at visitors wearing hoodies and heavy jackets when temperatures are in the 70s.
The average temperature seen in Valdez on any given June 17 date is 61 degrees. Last summer was close to average when it got as warm as 63 degrees that day.
Weather stations across Alaska were kept busy all week recording record heat according to the agency.
In Valdez, the weather was expected to begin cooling, with the possibility of thunderstorms Tuesday, after the Valdez Star was sent to press. The rest of the week calls for mostly sunny skies with daytime temperatures in the 70s.
While many may lament the return of rain, ecologically, precipitation is sorely needed. While the area’s late snows have managed to green up the area’s flora, Valdez is showing a rain deficit of 1.28 inches for this date in June.