Last Dance

Sitka Fine Arts Camp elementary age campers dance with instructor Brendan Jones in their final day of camp today at the Sheldon Jackson College Campus. Middle School Camp, for grades seven thru nine, begins Monday. Registration is still open at 907-747-3085. (Sentinel Photo by Klas Stolpe)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Sitka’s Tropical Day: Friday’s 88° F Sets Record

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer

With clear skies and lots of sunlight, Sitka came within one degree of setting a new all-time high heat record on Friday.

At 88 degrees Fahrenheit, Friday’s temperature tied with the previous record, which has stood for more than 40 years, according to the National Weather Service.

“We had high pressure and an offshore flow, basically dry Canadian air coming down and coming into the area,” NWS Observation Program Leader Kimberly Vaughan told the Sentinel today.

“The all-time record high for Sitka, that means the highest temp that has ever been recorded in Sitka, is 88 degrees. And the last time that happened was on July 30, 1976,” Vaughan said.

Official temperatures for Sitka are recorded at the FAA flight service station at the airport.

While Friday did not break the all-time record for Sitka, Vaughan noted that it did set one for July 31.

“For the day, it broke the record by 10 degrees, a record from 1971,” she said.

Friday’s heat also attracted the attention of local naturalist and longtime Sitkan Matt Goff, who runs a blog, sitkanature.org.

“What was notable to me, this summer people were joking about winter in June. It has been very cloudy, non-sunny, except for those two days in July (the 2nd and 31st) that broke 80,” Goff said.

He has run the blog since 2007, though he said his interest in natural history dates to the 1990s.

“I started taking pictures of the flowers in the late 90s and I decided I wanted to know what they were,” he said.

While Goff studied math and statistics in college, he described natural history as his “avocation.”

He added that extreme events attract a lot of interest.

“Extreme events are by their nature unusual. We had lightning the other day, that was fun too... Those unusual and extreme events are fun to pay attention to, so I enjoy doing that as part of a broader effort to understand the natural history of the area,” he said.

Friday was the second day in July to break the 80 degree threshold in Sitka this year. On July 2, two days before a cold and clammy Fourth of July, the local temperature was a scorching 83 degrees.

“On the second of the month, so early on, Sitka also broke a record temperature by 10 degrees,” Vaughan said. The old record for July 2 was 73 degrees, in 1979.

However, she noted that in spite of the two days in the 80s, Sitka’s overall average for July was 57.7 degrees, only 1.5 degrees warmer than average.

The National Weather Service calculates averages on a decade system, which Vaughan said ensures standardization. The current years used for American decade averages are 1981 through 2010.

“What we consider normal is a decade normal, which is 30 years of data. And that data now goes from 1981 to 2010, so they basically crunch those 30 years of data and come up with the average, which is considered normal for the station,” she said.

She added that a single hot day is not usually a cause for concern, as droughts can take months or even years to develop. After the heat wave of Friday, the weather cooled to a high of 65 degrees on Saturday, August 1. After the 83 degree high of July 2, the Fourth topped out at a cool 56 degrees.

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20 YEARS AGO

June 2004 

Advertisement: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Caring Employee of the month! Franklin Thomas Hospital Nutrition Services.

50 YEARS AGO

June 1974

Edna Revard is enjoying a much-deserved vacation: she and youngest son Joe are in Italy visiting her older son, Jack, his wife and child. Jack is with the military, stationed in Italy. Edna will be gone a month, the crew at Revard’s Restaurant says.

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