After a lull in lightning strikes to start the season, the skies have been very luminous of late. Strikes across the state have been widespread since the weekend. Over 5600 strikes on Monday, with over 15,000 strikes for the three days of Sunday-Tuesday.
A wildfire started near the Dalton Highway and the Arctic Circle, which closed a popular campground there.
So far, over 1 million acres have burned in Alaska this season, which is the earliest we have crossed that threshold in many decades. At least since 1969, Alaska has not seen 1 million acres burn by this date. Records were a bit sketchier back then, as recording acres burned in rural Alaska is a bit challenging.
Fairbanks hit 80F for the first time this season on the Solstice.
As of Monday, Alaska had seen 289 wildfires this season.
Most of the wildfires burning in Alaska right now are near the coast, but smoke from those fires have finally made its way into Interior Alaska. The sun was a bright orange pumpkin on Sunday morning.
The largest wildfire right now is the East Fork Fire near the community of St Marys. At 122,000 acres burned, it is the largest tundra fire since 2007, and the second largest in the past 40 years. St Marys is being evacuated, and the fire is now threatening other communities. The fire was started by lightning.
According to the BLM and Alaska Fire Service, Alaska has seen 314,057 acres burned so far this fire season. That is particularly note worthy, since it is already more than the entire season in 2020 and 2021.
As for the Interior, Fairbanks has now gone 25 days without measurable rainfall. It is a rare summer dry streak, as we have only seen two years with more: 1947 (28 days) and 1957 (26 days).
Chickenstock, the uniquely Alaskan music festival, is being held this weekend in Chicken, Alaska.
Chicken, which is just a leisurely drive up the Taylor Highway, was founded in 1902 by a group of miners. Legend has it that the miners wanted to call the new community Ptarmigan, after the local bird population, but couldn’t agree on a spelling, so they settled on Chicken.
As of 2020, the population of Chicken was 12, which is up from the 2010 census of 7. That’s close to a 42% increase! The Forty Mile District is booming!
2022 is the 16th Chickenstock, with a break in 2020 due to the pandemic.