(This story first published Monday afternoon was updated Tuesday morning.)
From subzero cold in northern Maine to 90s in Southern California, enormous temperature contrasts spanned United States between Friday and Monday.
In every corner of the nation, new records were established, showing off its enormous diversity of extreme weather:
- Anchorage experienced record warmth and set a snowfall record on the same day.
- Los Angeles set a record high of 93 degrees on consecutive days.
- Key West, Fla., finished its longest stretch in recorded history with high temperatures at or above 80 degrees.
- Caribou, Maine, dropped below zero the earliest it has in recorded history.
All but Caribou showed off record-setting high temperatures, consistent with expectations in a warming world, while the Caribou record shows pockets of extreme cold can and do linger.
It has been the warmest first half of November on record in Anchorage, a city that picked up a record 8.4 inches of snow and set a record warm high temperature on Saturday. The record high is yet another exceptional temperature for Alaska, where more than 90 percent of days in 2019 have been warmer than normal.
Since June 1, all but 10 days have been warmer than normal in Anchorage (including the high of 90 degrees on Independence Day for the first time on record).
For the past 27 days, temperatures have averaged 10 or more degrees above normal in Anchorage.
On Saturday, a brief southerly wind ticked the mercury from freezing to the mid-40s in two hours shortly after midnight. A few hours later, temperatures settled back into the 30s before the 8.4 inches of heavy, wet paste fell.
Much of Alaska’s recent warmth can be traced to disappearing Arctic sea ice in the Chukchi and Bering Seas. When it’s present, it helps refrigerate the region, but when it’s gone, temperatures rise much more readily.
It’s not only Alaska that’s toastier than typical. The Golden State continues to bake: Los Angeles has seen only eight days cooler than average since the start of September.
The city hit 93 degrees on Sunday and Monday, setting records both days. The 90-degree mark has been hit only nine other times this late in the year since bookkeeping began at Los Angeles International Airport in 1944. The average high for late November? About 69 degrees.
Since the 1940s, Los Angeles has warmed about two degrees. But in recent years, the number of fall days to hit 90 degrees has spiked significantly. Fall 2019 is already up to 11 such days, matching the record of 11 in 2017.
Long Beach and Santa Barbara also set records on Sunday and Monday. The heat has been combining with gusty Santa Ana winds to spark wildfire concerns. While the winds have since tapered and red flag warnings have been dropped, elevated fire weather remains because of the particularly hot and dry air.
The Sunshine State has experienced a prolonged period of anomalously warm weather, especially in the south.
Last Wednesday, Key West hit at least 80 degrees for the 231st day in a row, a record. It extended that record through Saturday, to 234 days, before a strong cold front ended the streak Sunday (when the high was 78).
Meanwhile, Miami has had 119 days at or above 90 degrees this year — only two shy of its record and is observing its warmest fall-to-date on record.
Like Key West, Miami saw a reprieve from the heat on Sunday when the temperature reached 65, tying the coldest high on record for the date.
Temperatures in South Florida quickly rebounded early this week. Key West was back up to 80 degrees at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
Temperatures in northern Maine have been downright bone-chilling.
Caribou posted record lows of 8 degrees on Saturday, 0 degrees Sunday, and minus-1 degree Monday.
Those temperatures established record lows for the three dates, marked the earliest first subzero reading on record and the earliest in the season Caribou has seen two nights in a row at or below zero.
Elsewhere in northern Maine, it was even colder. Estcourt Station hit minus-11, while the Presque Isle airport dipped to a cozy minus-5.