ColumnIt Was Sooooo Hot…..
By DAVE KIFFER
July 30, 2013
Is it the best one in the past 10 years? The best in the past 20? The best ever?
I suppose I could do a Top Ten Countdown. But that assumes there have been at least 10 great Ketchikan summers. Not in my lifetime.
Anyway, since we’ve just turned the calendar into August, it’s a bit premature to rank the entire summer. The wind could change, the leaves could drop and the chattering classes could end up spending August with chattering teeth. It has happened before. Recently. Last August had 20 days of rain.
Speaking of which, did anyone ever think one could make a living hauling water in Ketchikan? Talk about selling ice to Eskimos!
But, as usual, I digress.
Anyhooo, we are “suffering” through an unusually warm and dry summer by Ketchikan standards. Yep, the Tongass National Forest “fire danger” metrics have risen all the way from “glug, glug, glug” to “slightly drier than a killer whale’s colon.”
Natch, all of us Vitamin D deficient locals are just loving the sun light.
Except, of course, my fifth generation Alaskan son, who steps outside, shields his eyes from the bright orb and cries “it burns, daddy, it burns!”
Liam, BTW, just came back from a week playing baseball in Wrangell and has a…….shock and awe……tan!
Wow, that has happened exactly never.
But seriously how hot is it?
Let me do my very weak Johnny Carson impression.
“It is so hot that the salmon come into the nets par boiled.”
“It is so hot that the North Tongass Highway is paving itself!”
“It is so hot that even the tourists are rednecks.”
Of course, anecdotal evidence can only go far, just how does this “hot” summer really stack up?
My New Mexican wife begs to differ. She thought was 85 was pleasant but a little on the brisk side.
Of course, that blast furnace of a day pales in comparison to the all time temps. If you check with NOAA, just about every day in July, July and August has had at least one historical day in the mid to upper 80s.
And some have even reached up into the low to mid 90s.
But did that really happen? If you check the records, it seems as if all the 90+ days were a century ago.
Yep, in 1912 and 1913 and 1915, Ketchikan baked its way in the 90s several times.
I guess I’m a little skeptical.
Because – despite “global warming” – it’s almost never been close to that since.
Speaking of which, if it gets much hotter, we in Ketchikan will switch from "global warming" to "global melting."
Again, I digress.
Call me a cynic, but I am thinking either one of two things happened back in those days of yore.
Maybe the mercury was a little too “elastic” and 85 “stretched” up to 91?
Or even more likely, it WAS indeed pretty danged hot. Probably somewhere in the upper 80s.
It was so hot that the weather monitors either hightailed to the beach or sat in the dark shade, nursing a really cold one.
Either way, they looked over and said “yeah, I think it’s about 96 too. Mark that down.”
Really, it’s hard to imagine a local temperature of 96, as allegedly occurred on June 25, 1913.
Ninety six degrees. That’s hot, really, hot. Really #$%!@#!@*&@! hot.
To be sure, most of us who have been elsewhere have experienced hotter than that. In college, I lived through 115 degrees without A/C. That was without the 10,000 percent Ketchikan humidity that can make 78 degrees here border on the unpleasant and 80 cross over into the “all pants are sweat pants” territory.
But 96 degrees in Ketchikan really seems to stretch the possible!
First of all, the nosee-ums would have sizzled into eternity and would no longer exist.
And the salmon runs would have evaporated along with Ketchikan Creek.
And all of our humanid forebearers would have drowned after they “stopped, dropped and rolled” into Thomas Basin.
Unless of course, they were all sitting in the dark shade, sipping cold ones, and saying “yeah, I think it’s about 96 too.”
Contact Dave at email@example.com
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