The storm that took over the Alaskan skies last night was pretty impressive. The entire sky lit up to the point that the snow on the ground glowed green.
I heard that last night’s magnetic storm was rated a Kp7. The Kp index rates the magnitude of a geomagnetic disturbance. A 0, 1 or 2 is considered “Quiet”. A Kp3 is “Unsettled”. Kp4 = “Active”. Kp5 is a “Minor Storm” G1. Kp6 is a “Moderate Storm” G2, while last night’s Kp7 is considered a “Strong Storm” G3. Kp8 and Kp9 top the index as “Severe Storm” G4 and “Extreme Storm” G5, respectively.
There are some really incredible images out there online from last night’s Strong Storm. The two here are only cell phone images, and they do not do the aurora justice. It was really a phenomenal show. As you can see, we were not limited to just the green northern lights, but quite a bit of red was visible to the naked eye.
The skies were crystal clear, as expected, with temps dipping down to -32F at the cabin. I can’t wait to see if we get a second round tonight.
A magnetic storm is headed our way from the sun, which should offer great aurora viewing Sunday and Monday. Hopefully the clear skies hang around tonight. With a forecast of -20F, I am assuming we will have the all clear for the aurora.
There was a somewhat unexpected traveler through downtown Fairbanks on Wednesday. A wolf was spotted alongside a major road in town. Wolves tend to not seek the social media limelight, so they are not often spotted in town. I have seen them outside of town on several occasions over the years, but never anywhere near town.
That said, the wolf was the talk of the town all day, although I was late to the party with my limited social media presence. Fish & Game officials believe the wolf came down the Chena River and took a sight seeing tour of the town. They were keeping tabs on the wolf’s whereabouts, but remaining mum.
The Nenana Basin lies southwest of Fairbanks. The Parks Highway runs along its eastern boundary, and the Tanana River runs right through the middle of it. The basin is 56 miles long and 7.5 miles wide. Over the course of millions of years, the basin has been filled in with river sediment. Considering that the basin is 4 miles deep (7km), that is a lot of fill.
Several entities have been drilling test holes throughout the basin looking for oil and gas, so the University of Alaska – Fairbanks has been studying the basin’s makeup. One thing they found is that earthquakes last longer and feel a lot stronger in the basin, than just outside the basin.
The shockwaves from an earthquake travel differently through the sediment, which is mostly gravel, than the solid rock along the ridge lines. Reverberation also plays a roll here: The seismic waves are amplified by the basin walls and floor.
Seismic sensors have verified what local residents have been claiming: The shaking is a lot worse down in The Flats than up in the hills.
Source credit: Alaska Public Media, University of Alaska – Fairbanks
Today Alaska celebrates the life and dedication of Elizabeth Peratrovich.
In 1945, the Anti-Discrimination Act came before the Alaska Territorial Senate. The bill had already passed the House, and Peratrovich was slated to testify on the bill’s behalf. The State Legislative Building was packed to the rafters, and the doors were left open so that those in the hallways could hear the proceedings.
A Juneau senator cemented his place in Alaska history with this question: “Who are these people, barely out of savagery, who want to associate with us whites, with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind us?”
When Elizabeth Peratrovich testified, she responded with, “I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with five thousand years of recorded civilization behind them, of our Bill of Rights.” She went on a passionate plea calling for equal treatment for Indigenous peoples in the state.
The bill passed the Senate 11-5 and was signed by Governor Gruening on February 16, 1945. Alaska was still a territory, and its Anti-Discrimination Act passed almost 20 years before the United States passed the Civil Rights Act.
I’ve been out at Poker Flats, which is outside Fairbanks, on several occasions when they were launching weather balloons. These days, most weather balloons are filled and launched by robotic launchers called autosondes, which takes some of the romance out of weather balloons, but that’s not the purpose of this post.
In the United States alone, there are 92 sites that launch two balloons every day of the year. There are over 800 locations worldwide doing the exact same thing. Here in Alaska, we have 13 sites that launch weather balloons twice a day, every day, and always at the same time: Midnight and noon Greenwich Mean Time.
A small collection of weather instruments, called a radiosonde is attached to the balloon which collects data and transmits that data back to the NWS as it rises. A weather balloon makes it to roughly 100,000 feet before it pops and falls back to earth. These days, radio balloons are highly biodegradable.
The first weather balloon with a radiosonde launched from Fairbanks in 1933. They started launching two balloons a day in 1941. I’ll let you do the math, but no matter how you figure it, that’s a lot of balloons.
In the summer of 1918, Rockwell Kent arrived in Seward, Alaska with his nine year old son. They spent the rest of that summer, and the following winter in a small log cabin on Fox Island out in Resurrection Bay. They rebuilt the cabin, cut firewood, explored the island, but most of all Kent worked on his art. The work that followed, including his memoir Wilderness, inspired countless numbers of artists and adventurers alike.
A Dreamer’s Search is a short film by Alaskan filmmaker Eric Downs. The film explores the Kents adventure out on Fox Island, and asks one big question:
Would you risk everything to find your true calling?