In Interior Alaska, on cloudy or rainy days temperatures are often in the upper 60s (17-19oC) even in summer. Here I am wearing my floral print summer sheath under a white blazer to stay comfortable on a not so warm summer day.
August is the month with the most precipitation in Interior Alaska. Because of the rain many people call it the monsoon season. However, the rain is caused by extratropical cyclones that move over Alaska. Monsoon rain, on the contrary, is caused by the difference in ocean and land temperatures. During summer, the land heats up faster and becomes warmer than the adjacent ocean. The warm air rises and is replaced by moist, cooler air from over the ocean. Over land this moist air warms and rises and leads to the monsoon precipitation after which the monsoon is named. Actually, monsoon is defined as a reversing large scale wind circulation. In summer, the wind blows from the ocean to the land. In winter, the opposite is true as then the ocean is warmer than the land because the ocean has a higher heat capacity. This means it takes longer for the ocean to cool than for the land. In contrast to the monsoon, in an extratropical cyclone, the rain stems from lifting of moist air at the warm and cold fronts.
At the moment, many people are joking that the August rains will start on Friday. At the end of this week, namely, the Tanana Valley Fair will open its gates. The fair used to be a week later, but organizers put the date a week earlier to avoid the August rains. We will see whether it will work this year.
Photos: G. Kramm
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