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Surprising Science

The Arctic Circle Was Warmer than Alturas, California, on Sunday

We’re in for a lot of weird weather.

It’s difficult to ignore the impacts of climate change. Especially when Barrow, Alaska, a town that sits at the top of the world, just above the Arctic Circle, was warmer than the California city of Alturas.

On Sunday morning, the National Weather Service for Sacramento tweeted that the Northern California city of Alturas was witnessing below-freezing temperatures of minus 3 degrees Fahrenheit while Barrow’s was at a balmy 3 degrees.

Image Credit: National Weather Service Sacramento

Alturas was even colder the previous day — minus 5 degrees — breaking a record set way back in 1931.

It would seem that climatologist Brian Brettschneider may need to make some amendments to his proposed road trip that would keep those who attempted it in 70 degree conditions (plus or minus a few degrees).

Compare this map to the recent temperatures reported by the National Weather Service.

It should be noted that Brettschneider used data to support this proposed road map. His estimates of 70 degree weather conditions came from the daily “normal” high temperatures from the National Centers for Environmental Information over a 30-year period. But it would seem the conditions have changed, which Brettschneider also alludes to regularly on his Twitter feed with daily before-and-after examples of record-breaking highs and lows across the country.

"People didn’t see the impacts as much as they’re seeing them and feeling them today," says EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Top photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker