Alaska faces a blanket of ice after record heat

Record heat, snowstorms, torrential rains and patches of ice. Alaska is experiencing extreme weather conditions this week that are wreaking havoc in several cities in the northernmost state of the United States.

Large patches of ice are blocking roads and making traffic impossible in Fairbanks, Alaska’s second largest city, the state Department of Transportation said. “We are facing a series of unprecedented winter storms. All available staff are working very hard, but we may not be able to clear everything until this weekend ”, said the authorities on Twitter, warning of an apocalyptic situation with the ice, nicknamed “Icemageddon”.

Hours after the state recorded a record temperature for December – of 19.4 ° C on Kodiak Island in southern Alaska – torrential rains poured into the interior, a phenomenon which had not happened since 1937. The air temperature then dropped, causing massive ice formation.

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Alaska, the outpost of climate change

Usually, December is a cold, dry month for Alaska. North of the Arctic Circle, the atmosphere is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. Average temperatures in this region of the world have increased by 1.6 ° C since 1950, compared with 0.3 ° C globally.

“More than half of the population of Fairbanks was left without electricity during the storm”, informs Agence France-Presse Rick Thoman, climate specialist at the University of Alaska. “This type of event, high humidity and very hot air, is exactly [l’effet] expected from global warming ”, points out the expert.

This is not the first time that temperatures have reached worrying levels in Alaska. July 4, 2019 the mercury had exceeded 32 ° C in Anchorage, largest city in the state. The highest precedent was set on June 14, 1969 at 29.4 ° C. According to meteorologists, the average maximum temperature for July 4 in Anchorage is 18.3 ° C.

In the American West, Washington State and California are also facing heavy rains and snowfall that have caused the cancellation of hundreds of flights, the blocking of roads and evacuations of people in the face of the risk of flooding. .

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The World with AFP

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