Bethel’s Warm Temperatures Break Records

Bethel Bethel Boat Harbor November 13th, 2014. – (Photo by Dean Swope)
Bethel Bethel Boat Harbor November 13th, 2014. – (Photo by Dean Swope)

Bethel broke the record for highest-average temperature in 2014. It’s included in a broad swath of Western and Southwestern Alaska which have had above normal temperatures, according to the National Weather Service.

Rich Thoman, a climatologist with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks states, “In that area there’s about seven or eight places that have weather inclement observations that go back 70 years or more and at those places it was the warmest in that entire period of record – 70 to 90 or 100 years even. 2014 was warmer than any other calendar year,” said Thoman.

Those that broke records for the year include Cold Bay, King Salmon, Homer, McGrath, Nome, Kotzebue and Bethel.

The higher temperatures have made travel around the Kuskokwim Delta difficult, where frozen rivers become winter highways. The river took longer than normal to freeze up, and when it did there were dangerous open holes that can swallow snow machines, four-wheelers and people. Village travel has been limited all season as a result.

Thomen says says the record warm 2014 is continuing a trend of very warm years seen over the last decade or so. Five years since 2000 have been amongst the warmest ever in Bethel.

“The lowest temperature in Bethel was 16 below and this is the first year that Bethel did not make it down to minus 20,” said Thoman.

It also took a long time to get down below zero, says Thoman.

“This winter, the winter of 2014-2015, Bethel did not have its first sub zero temperature until the 21st of December. Bethel has never gone that late into the season until the temperature go below zero,” said Thoman.

Thoman says the average temperature for Bethel for the entire year of 2014 was 34.9 degrees.

“Now to put that in context, the average temperature for a year in Bethel is about 29 degrees. That doesn’t sound like it’s a big departure but over 365 days, that’s very large. Bethel’s never had a warmer year,” said Thoman.

Weather observations in Bethel started in 1923, according to the National Weather Service.

“Now to put that in context, the average temperature for a year in Bethel is about 29 degrees. That doesn’t sound like it’s a big departure but over 365 days, that’s very large. Bethel’s never had a warmer year,” said Thoman.

Weather observations in Bethel started in 1923, according to the National Weather Service.

SHARE
Previous articleNOVA: Rise of the Drones
Next articleTroopers Investigate Sexual Abuse Allegation In Chuathbaluk
Daysha Eaton is the News Director at KBBI in Homer. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.