A year without a spring

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Wildfires burning in Southwestern Alaska on June 16, 2013.
NASA Earth Observatory

Yet just a month ago, Alaska was in the grips of a never-ending winter, with late-season snowstorms and record-low temperatures in mid-May. The wild weather swing has wreaked havoc on the annual ice melt along rivers, causing ice jams and flooding. The town of Galena was evacuated late last month due to flooding from an ice dam on the mighty Yukon River. The Nenana Ice Classic, a betting contest on the Nenana River's ice breakup, set a record for the latest-ever crack and cave in of the ice.

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DCI

"It was an incredibly rapid transition," Lawson told LiveScience. "Literally, our spring was about five days before we jumped into summer-type weather."

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A persistent low-pressure trough that remained stuck over the state brought wave after wave of cold Arctic air into Alaska, Lawson said, keeping temperatures lower than normal for most of the winter.

This week's warm weather could bring more flooding from melting snow and ice at higher elevations, the NWS has warned. A red flag fire warning, which signals dangerously dry air and possible strong winds, was also issued over the weekend for much of the state because of drier conditions caused by the hot air mass. A forest fire broke out east of Fairbanks on Monday evening (June 17), prompting temporary road closures. A 30,000-acre fire is also burning in Southwest Alaska.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Alaska was 100 F (37 C) in Ft. Yukon on June 27, 1915.

Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.

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