January ranks warmest on record

by Ben Matheson on February 6, 2014

You didn’t imagine it. This past January will go down as the warmest on record in Bethel.January’s average temperature was 26.0 degrees. That beats a 29 year-old official record from 1985, when it averaged 25.7 degrees. That’s considering records from 1948 to today in the official record.

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Before that, unofficial records show two years in the 1930s that were warmer than 2014. 1937’s January averaged 29.3 degrees and 1930 was measured at 26.4. But again, for official purposes, it was the warmest January on record.

Brian Warren is with the National Weather Service in Bethel. He says the warmth can be traced to what’s called the long wave pattern, which dictates the path that the jet stream follows. That put a ridge of high pressure over the state.

“The way it was orientated over Alaska, it was bringing some of the the hot moist air from the tropical areas, that was the big influence on the warm weather we’re having,” said Warren.

Bethel measured 19 degrees above the historic average of 6.6 degrees and broke or tied daily records on eight days that’ in the process of reaching 40 degrees 10 times. Bethel did not hit the all time warm temperature for the month. In 1963 the all time high was established at 48 degrees. Bethel hit 47 degrees this month. The average high temperate of 31.9 set a record. The low snowpack did not set any records, but it was indeed low.

The average snow depth was 2.2 inches, that’s in the bottom 10 of smallest snowpacks. The snow depth reached a max of 7 inches. But temperatures rose and quickly melted the snow. From a peak on January 19th, the snow melted down to a trace by the 26th.

With January in the rear view mirror, February is off to a wet start. Warren says that should change.

“The pattern is starting to diminish a little bit, we’re going to get cold, we’re going to get snow, I think we’re going to get back to a normal February,” said Warren.

By Thursday night, the low could drop to 8 degrees. The high on Sunday is 10 degrees.

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