There is a lot of snow on the ground still. Anywhere from 12-18″ of depth, but the 50F degrees this past weekend has put the melt on. Lots of sun right now too:
Length of day: 16 hrs, 53 mins
Length of visible light: 19 hrs, 17 mins
Today will be 6 mins and 59 secs longer than yesterday.
The beavers have open water in front of their lodge, which happens for two reasons. Their swimming back and forth helps to keep the ice thinner, but there is also a methane release point in the same location, which helps to do the same thing. In fact, the circles of diminished ice in the background, are also methane pockets.
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.
We often see test vehicles roaming our roads in the winter, although these stood out more than most. The first time I saw them, there was an entire convoy in line, but since then it’s been mostly in small groups.
Amazon is in Fairbanks testing their new EV delivery vans. This is probably not the winter to give an EV a thorough cold weather test, as it has been one of the milder winters I have experienced. Still, Amazon is having a go at it, and it should be a good test for how they handle on icy roads.
A deep freeze swept over much of Interior Alaska this week. Not only was Chicken the cold spot in the state with a low of -57F, their high ended up being only -50F. They hold the spot as the first location in Alaska to officially see a high of minus fifty or colder this season.
By comparison, the thermometer outside the cabin read a balmy -33F Monday morning.
The “other” sled dog race in Alaska is the Iditarod. Like the Yukon Quest, mushers have been slow to sign up to run in 2023. As of last week, 34 mushers had committed to race. Only one year had such a low number, and that was the first year in 1973.
Several factors have entered into the low number, but the price tag to train a team of dogs right now seems to be the driving factor. The price of gasoline, dog food, and even straw has gone up considerably this past year. A team of 45 dogs can go through six pallets of dog food a year. The average price of a pallet of food has increased by $700 in Alaska, if you train on the road system.
Legends of the sport are also seeing their careers wind down. Jeff King, Dallas Seavey, Mitch Seavey, Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Martin Buser have won a total of 17 races among them, yet none of them have signed up to run in 2023.
The past ten years have seen an average of 64 mushers at the starting line, and 2016 had 85 mushers in the field.
The race to Nome will follow the southern route through the abandoned mining town, and race namesake, Iditarod. Then through Anvike and north to Kaltag, where it rejoins the main trail to Nome.
The ceremonial start in Anchorage is set for March 4, with the restart in Willow the following day.