While May sizzled the home planet, Alaska chilled

Aerial view of downtown Anchorage, Alaska at sunset on April 25, 2012. Loren Holmes photo May was the second warmest on record for the globe as a whole, capping the warmest spring ever seen in the United States, with 31 states setting all-time records and most others solidly above average, according to the latest analyses posted by the National Climate Data Center.

Just one U.S. state chilled off course: Alaska.

“In contrast to April, a month that recorded above normal temperatures, May 2012 was seasonably too cold,” reported the Alaska Climate Research Center in its monthly summary. “19 of the 20 … meteorological stations in Alaska reported negative deviations.”

“Alaskan temperatures were cooler than average for much of the first five months of 2012,” the national climate center reported here. “The state had its 15th coolest January-May period on record, with temperatures 3.2 degrees (F) below average.”

Just how dismal was it? Now that southern Alaskans have been experiencing 70-something temperatures, a bit of sunshine and a thunderstorm or two, they can safely ponder these melancholy statistics of a spring that wasn’t.

May was Alaska’s 22nd coolest on record, with average temperatures more than 2 degrees F below average. Kotzebue and St. Paul Island saw temps more than 5 degrees F below normal, while seven locales saw temps between 3 and 4 degrees below normal, the Alaska climate center posted here. Anchorage averaged 45.5 degrees F — 2.3 degrees cooler than usual.

Throw in the entire March-to-May season, and the northernmost U.S. state averaged 2.7 degrees F below average, the 23rd coolest spring of the past 95 years, according to the national climate center.

Partly due to one of the snowiest winters in state history, 2012 has already been wet for Alaska too. The March-to-May spring saw 10.5 percent more snow and rain than normal, the national climate center said, with the first five months of the year more than 13 percent above normal.

And May, often one of the driest months of the year, was downright soggy, drizzling the 49th state with almost 20 percent more precipitation than normal and giving Alaskans the 19th-wettest May since 1918.

The Alaska climate center, doing its own analysis that produces slightly different figures than those from the national center, reported 11 of the state’s 20 major weather stations had above-normal precipitation with some big contrasts. The stations that saw extra snow and rain swamped the stations with less precipitation.

“The greatest positive deviations above normal were found for Barrow (178 percent), Annette (83 percent), Gulkana (82 percent) and Juneau (77 percent),” the climate center said here. “On the other side of the spectrum were Talkeetna, with only 23 percent of the expected value … and Bethel with 42 percent.”

May 16 drenched Nome with a record 0.84 inches of rain, the center noted. “This was nearly the entire amount rain for the whole month of May that reported a total of 0.88 inches.”

Contact Doug O’Harra at doug(at)alaskadispatch.com

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