It's colder in Tucson than Barrow, Alaska -- at least at 18,000 feet

Cropped Photo: GNU Image / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

The Desert Southwest doesn't seem like much of a desert these days -- at least temperature-wise. Highs in Arizona were in the 40s as a very cold upper level low pressure center sat parked in the region.

But high up above the Arizona skies, it was so cold, you could claim you'd have been a little warmer (relatively speaking) if you were instead in the Arctic Circle.

According to University of Washington research meteorologist Mark Albright, a weather balloon launched from Tucson Saturday night recorded a temperature of -32C at the 500 mb pressure height -- about 18,000 feet altitude. Meanwhile, another weather balloon launched at the same time in Barrow Alaska reported a 500 mb temperature of "only" -30C. (See chart)

High altitude temperature readings in the -30s looks like it might be a daily Dec. 26 record for Tucson but not an all time record. They've been as cold as -38C before in mid-December.

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