2014 Was the Warmest Year on Record for Much of Alaska

On a day when many Interior Alaska towns and villages watch temperatures approach minus 40 degrees and Anchorage nearly dips to zero, it may seem counterintuitive to discuss warmth in the 49th state.

However, what transpired in 2014 is already the subject of considerable discussion among climate scientists. Over the weekend, the National Weather Service in Alaska noted that a number of cities across the state with long-term record keeping saw their warmest year on record in 2014.

Nearly every station west of a line from Anchorage to McGrath to Barrow observed its first-, second- or third-warmest year on record.

McGrath, Kotzebue, Nome, Bethel, King Salmon, Cold Bay and Homer all finished 2014 in first place. Anchorage just missed.

Even in the eastern Interior and Southeast, every major Alaska station except Annette Island saw a top-10-warmest year.

With so many places at or near the top of their all-time temperature lists, was 2014 the warmest year in Alaska since record-keeping began? Surprisingly, a simple question is difficult to answer.