Author Archives: icefogger

About icefogger

Just a basic, down to Earth, laid back type of guy here, who loves the outdoors, the indoors, jazz on the turntable, a fire in the woodstove, the northern lights blazing across the sky, and the company of good friends.

55 Degree Swing

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Overflow on Goldstream Creek

Last Friday morning the temp at the cabin was -30F.  On Tuesday morning the temp was +25F.  So as many in the Lower 48 experience cooler temps, we in Interior Alaska are back in sweatshirts.  In fact, I even saw someone breaking out the shorts on Tuesday.

I haven’t gone that far yet, but I do have at least one open window.


Dismantling the SS Nenana

 

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SS Nenana; Camera: Widelux; Film: Kodak T-Max100 

The Fairbanks North Star Borough has recently proposed dismantling the historic sternwheeler.

I knew something was up. Several contractors I’ve talked with were willing to donate time & resources to the ship’s restoration, which would be added to grants and fundraising, but the Borough was obviously stalling, and we were convinced they just wanted to look the other way until nature takes over.

In all honesty, Fairbanks is terrible when it comes to valuing its history. Fairbanks has only existed since 1904, so its not like it’s an overwhelming time frame.

So for my readers in Fairbanks, drop the Borough Assembly an email if you’d like to see the Nenana remain the centerpiece of Pioneer Park. Don’t hold your breath for a response. Of the nine members plus the mayor, only two bothered to respond to my inquiries.

An Assembly meeting on the subject is slated for January 16.

Click the link for FNSB assembly member contact info:

http://www.fnsb.us/assembly/Pages/Assembly-Members.aspx?fbclid=IwAR1llFr_PNELlA2EiKM-cKroU-yBDAYcGpDHnP6qSINbZlwTiKoH0E2AnAg


Winter Warmup

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Map and data credit: NOAA

It isn’t a figment of Alaskans’ imagination: Alaska’s winters are indeed warmer.  Winter months (December through February) have seen a substantial rise in average temperatures over the past fifty years.  The northern part of the state has seen the largest increase, with a 9.0 to 9.2F degree rise, but the entire state is under a warming trend.

 

Nome Sea Ice:

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Data credit: UAF, ACCAP, NOAA, @AlaskaWx

Sea ice off the coast of Nome, Alaska is nonexistent in December, defying the historical record.  Everything but recent history, that is.  The drop off the statistical edge that the graph shows is pretty eye-opening.

The Port of Nome was open and operating at the end of November, which is the latest that has happened on record.

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Nome “Ice” Cam

 


Could have pulled forward

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Bridge Over Frigid Waters

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Walking bridge across the Chena River

Thursday morning was just a tad chilly in Interior Alaska.  Fort Yukon dropped to -45F.  The record low for the date in Fort Yukon is -68F, so it’s still balmy from that vantage point.

The Fairbanks airport hit -20F at 8am on Thursday.  The first time we had officially dropped to -20 for the season.  We are 2-1/2 weeks late (November 19) from the average first -20 of the season, but we are still 10 days earlier than in 2018.

The temp at the cabin at 8am was -26F on Thursday.


Denali on canvas

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This painting is on display at the Fairbanks Community Museum.  Photo by Circle to Circle


Fairbanks Community & Mushing Museum

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There is a small local museum on the second floor of the Co-Op Plaza Building in the heart of downtown Fairbanks.  I believe that two museums combined forces, with the Community Museum embracing the once separate Dog Mushing Museum, which had fallen on hard times.

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The 1962 Bombardier Ski-Doo is a powerhouse of snow, stomping fun.  The four-cycle engine produces 7 whole horsepower, and offers a top speed of 15mph.  Is that quicker than a horse-drawn sleigh?  The little Ski-Doo last raced in the 2006 Tired-Iron Snowmachine Rally, which is an annual event here in Fairbanks.

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Dog mushing is a major part of Interior Alaska’s identity, although recreational mushers are becoming a rare breed.  Currently, around the same time frame in March as the Dog Derby of 1941, Fairbanks hosts the Open North American Championship dog sled races.  The Open North American brings in mushers from around the globe.

 

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The big race for Fairbanks is the Yukon Quest, which runs between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.  The 1000 mile race was first run in 1984.  The start line alternates yearly between the two cities.

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This Yukon style toboggan, circa 1920, is representative of the style used in the Interior Alaska woods.  They traveled better than sleds with runners.  The woodwork was obviously done by hand, and the sides, and back are made of moose hide.  It was built, owned and operated by a famed local trapper.

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The museum is full of photographs from all stages of Fairbanks’ history.  From the gold rush days of its founding, to the Great Flood, and beyond.

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During the tourist season, the film “Attla” has been shown on a weekly basis at the museum.  George Attla was the iconic Alaskan dogsled racer.  He dominated sprint races, with a career that spanned from 1958 to 2011, doing it all on one good leg.  Mr Attla, originally from the village of Koyukuk, passed away in 2015.

On a separate, but related note:  The PBS show, “Independent Lens” will be broadcasting an episode on George Attla on December 16.  Check your local PBS station for showtimes.


Alaska’s November in review

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Data credit: NOAA; Graphic credit: @AlaskaWx

November was a warm month across the State of Alaska.  With the lack of sea ice, Utqiagvik was a staggering 16.1 degrees above normal for the month.  By comparison, Fairbanks was a modest 10.6 degrees above normal for November.

 

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Graph credit: ACCAP

Sea ice in the Chukchi Sea was at the lowest level ever recorded for November.  In fact, sea ice was at such a low level, that it was below the daily average levels for entire summers prior to 2001.

 

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November highlights: Data credit: NOAA; Graphic credit: @AlaskaWx

Some highlights for the month statewide:

The final week of the month hit the village of Bettles, with a record 3-day snowfall of 28.3″.  That same storm also set the 2-day record.

Anchorage, Cold Bay and Kodiak all saw their warmest November on record, while Utqiagvik experienced its second warmest.

On Thanksgiving morning the temperature in Fairbanks was 33F, which is only the seventh time in 116 years that Fairbanks saw above freezing temperatures on that day.

Nome had no snow on the ground during November, yet Chulitna received 78.5″!

Kotzebue continues its streak of above average temperatures for the 27th consecutive month.


Hockey in Fairbanks

Friday & Saturday were Hockey Nights in Fairbanks

Puck about to be dropped on Saturday. Anton Martinsson in net for the Nanooks.