Arctic Heat Wave

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Picture if you will a bright sunny day, just a little bit of haze on the horizon, and temperatures topping out at 80°F (27°C) before cooling off to 63°F (17°C).  Most of you are probably picturing ideal conditions for summer – soaking up the rays, and maybe having to build a fire to keep warm.

Well … welcome to Alaska, where it’s something to complain about.  80’s is hot for us.  No seriously, it is.  We are a city where average temperatures this time of year is around where the low temperatures have been.  We are comfortable taking in a nice day where it doesn’t even break the 70’s.

Alright, I won’t say we’re complaining — its actually really really hard to complain about this.  Sometimes at least.  I mean, it’s tough sleeping weather mostly because you’re not prepared for it.  I don’t have air conditioning in the house, windows are wide open and the wind is pretty dead.  Only by 3 or 4 in the morning does things get cool enough to need a comforter, but by that time I’ve kicked it off quite good.  This also means we have to water our lawns to keep them green, which up here is as strange as not watering the lawns in Kansas.  So since its out of the comfort zone, it’s fodder for the complainers.

The ironic thing is people on the north slope are complaining worse — but this time for good reason.  Temperatures this week averaged above 60°F (16°C); and this means they had to slow down production due to excessive heat.  Seriously … excessive heat!  Much of oil production is about maintaining certain gas pressures in the lines.  For those of you who passed high school chemistry, you know that gas pressure have a direct proportionality with volume, temperature, and amount of stuff you have in all that.  Or in other words, the hotter it is the harder it is to compress all that stuff into the same volume.  Since volume is consistent and they can’t control the temperature, they just get less stuff out of the ground.   Sure you can plan your systems around that, but those machines were optimized based on what they would see the most — so they work best at -15°F (-26°C).  Now that it is 75°F degrees warmer, things aren’t working too good.  Think if your car was made to work best at 75°, how well would it work at 150°?

While the heat wave on the slope will break today or tomorrow (and back to the low 50’s / high 40’s that they are used to in the summer).  In Anchorage, we are looking to be on a long run.  The 10-day forecast is as consistent as a straight line, with no suggestion of rain in site.  So, I better get the sprinklers out.

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