Alaskans scrambled for ways to keep cool as an unusual heat wave warmed Anchorage and other parts of the state this week, bringing temperatures to the Last Frontier that felt more like Southern California.
Residents headed to Goose Lake in Anchorage as temperatures hit 81 on Tuesday, breaking the previous record for the day of 80 degrees set in 1926. In June, temperatures in Anchorage usually range in the mid-60s.
The small community of Talkeetna, 60 miles from Mt. McKinley, saw the thermometer hit 96 degrees on Tuesday, said David Kochevar, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage.
Warm, dry winds generated by a system similar to Southern California’s Santa Ana winds led to the record temperatures, Kochevar said. The heat wave started last week with a high of 68 on Thursday, and the temperature stayed above 70 for the next five days.
“We’re such babies,” said Greg Wilkinson, a public information officer with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. “The fact of the matter is we’re not as prepared for it up here as you are in Southern California.”
As Alaskans looked in droves for ways to keep cool, local hardware stores saw products fly off the shelves.
“Our entire fan department is wiped out,” Stephanie Van Ness, owner of Andy’s Ace Hardware in Anchorage, told the Los Angeles Times. The rush started early last week and the store sold through its entire summer supply of fans by the weekend, she said. She said a new stock would be in by Monday.
Other hot commodities included sprinklers, garden hoses and mosquito repellent, with officials reporting a mosquito boom caused by the warm weather.