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Heat not letting up in Southcentral

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Toben Shelby
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.Temperatures hit near 80 degrees at Toben Shelby's house in Anchorage Thursday evening.

Southcentral Alaska is having one of its hottest starts to summer to date. And it’s not going to be letting up anytime soon.

Brian Brettschneider is a research physical scientist with the National Weather Service Alaska Region. He said this month is set to end up the warmest June on record in Anchorage, where he’s based.

“It’s certainly one for the record books," he said. "And if you look at the average high temperature, it will be the first — almost certainly, not a guarantee, but most likely it will be the first June where the average high temperature was 70 degrees.”

Temperatures aren’t quite as exceptional in Kenai as they’ve been in Anchorage. Brettschneider said it’s the fourth warmest June Kenai has seen in 70 years — just a half degree away from being the warmest.

Brettschneider said the warm temperatures in the region are in part due to a very persistent area of high pressure at all levels of the atmosphere.

“When there’s a lot of air above you, it gets heavy and it sinks," he said. "And to get rain and clouds you need rising air.  And so when you have sinking air you end up with very sunny conditions and typically very warm conditions.”

It hasn't been that way for all of Alaska. Brettschneider said this month has been a cooler-than-normal June for the northern region of the state.

There could be a bit of a reprieve in temperatures this upcoming weekend, Brettschneider said, with temperatures mostly sticking below the 70s.

But he said then there will be near record highs again early next week.

"We’re inextricably heading toward a warmer climate regime," he said. "And so I kind of root for cooler weather. Any time we don’t get as warm as we’re supposed to, I kind of take that as a one-day victory."

Although he said there is at least one group of people who really get to enjoy the heat.

"I’ve heard this a lot from gardeners. They kind of feel guilty," he said. "They’re like – ‘Man, this is really kind of a bad sign for the future of Alaska. But man, this is great for gardening!’”

Brettschneider said temperatures are set to hit a peak in Southcentral Tuesday and Wednesday, when they could get above 80 degrees.

And he said there’s no hint that Alaska's headed toward a rainy late-summer pattern any time soon.

Sabine Poux is the news director at KDLL. Originally from New York, she's lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont, where she fell in love with local news. She covers all things central peninsula but is especially interested in stories related to energy and fishing. She'd love to hear your ideas at spoux@kdll.org.