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Baked Alaska: Earth Image of the Week June 28, 2013
Astronaut photographer Chris Cassidy
Southern Alaska towns that set all-time record highs on June 17 included Cordova, Valdez and Seward.
The complex weather patterns that provide Alaska with some of the most dramatic weather in the Northern Hemisphere also make the state one of the hardest to see cloud-free from space.

The “Last Frontier” has been referred to by some meteorologists as “where fronts go to die.”

And indeed, the regular succession of weather systems dissipating over the state do bring Alaska its fair share of cloudy days, even in summer.

But this was not the case on Monday, June 17, 2013. The image to the right of a virtually cloud-free Alaska was captured by NASA’s Terra satellite when the spacecraft passed overhead at midday local time.

The snow-capped Alaska Range and Brooks Range of mountains are clearly visible, as is the bright white of the snow surrounding Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest mountain.

The same ridge of high barometric pressure that cleared out the skies also brought scorching temperatures to some areas that most Alaskans are not used to.

The high temperature on the afternoon the image was taken reached 96 degrees in the town of Talkeetna, a town about 100 miles north of Anchorage and a little south of Mount McKinley.

Temperatures in mid-June are typically in the 60s in Anchorage, where the high reached 81 degrees on June 17. It was snowing there just over a month ago.

Weather records show that Alaska’s heat wave was the warmest since 1969, and followed a string of cool summers.

"It's almost unbearable to me," said Lorraine Roehl, who has lived in Anchorage for two years after moving there from the Aleutian Islands. She told the Associated Press: "I don't like being hot. I'm used to cool ocean breeze."

Full story and image: NASA