Tag Archives: cold

Arctic Coast Sunrise!

Utqiagvik sees the sunrise

Utqiagvik, the Village Formerly Known as Barrow, saw the sun rise yesterday for the first time in 65 days.

Brighter days are ahead.

Six months apart

July 1952 and January 1953 – Downtown Fairbanks, Alaska


Chilly Chicken

Graphic credit: National Weather Service – Fairbanks

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.


Cooling off a bit:


The Iditarod 2023

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 Iditarod Trail Map

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.


Mail Run

The Tanana to Nome, Alaska mail run; circa 1914

The Yukon Quest 2023

A musher leaves downtown Fairbanks in the 2022 Mini-Yukon Quest; Photo credit: Alaska Public Media

Major changes have come to the Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race. The international race could not survive the Covid pandemic, with Alaska and Canada going their separate ways. Sad news to be sure, since the big appeal to the 1000 mile race was the international aspect of it.

Alaska officials are hoping there is still some interest in an All-Alaskan race, even with it being shortened to 550 miles. Time will tell, but only 13 mushers have signed up to run the 2023 race, to date.

The race will start on the Chena River in Fairbanks, and follow the traditional route to Eagle, Alaska, but after descending American Summit, instead of going on to Dawson, the route will turn south to Chicken and the finish line at Tok, Alaska.

The Yukon Quest 550, as well as a 300 mile race and an 80 mile “fun run”, will all start the morning of February 4th.


Fairbanks Weather Almanac

Fairbanks had 5″ of snow in October, which is trending downward for the month. Between 1981 and 2010, October saw an average of more than 10″. Fairbanks has not seen an October with significantly above average snowfall in 18 years. Not that I’m complaining about that statistic. I’m in the “delay the snowfall for as long as possible” camp.

Sunday morning saw our first below zero temp of the season. It was -10F at the cabin. That is two days later than the average first dip into the negatives.

The Tanana River is at flood stage near Fairbanks due to an ice dam. We often think of ice dams causing trouble at break up, but they can cause havoc in the autumn too.

The length of day on Halloween in Fairbanks was 7 hours and 58 minutes. All Saints Day will be 6 minutes and 45 seconds shorter.

The record low on Halloween is -30F. The record high for the day is 46F. The average is +5 and +20 respectively. 2022 was slightly cooler than average.

Graphics credit: ACCAP/@AlaskaWX and NOAA


Beaver Patrol

Not one…

Not two…

But three…

Beavers patrolling The Pond. The birch, aspen and cottonwoods are all targets.

There has not been any action from the beavers since early spring. Once we made it into late September, and had the first hard freeze, they shifted into that busy beaver mode. It’s been nonstop action, day and night, collecting their favorite trees for the pantry, ever since. They already have a decent pile of semi-submerged tree limbs in front of their lodge.

They are a fascinating rodent, but if you want to save a nice birch from their teeth, you need to be proactive. My “yard” has a fence around it, but they still manage to break through from time to time. The neighbor though, offers them an easy smorgasbord, so for the most part, they seem to take the path of least resistance. In one night, three beavers dropped a dozen trees and waddled off with roughly half of their lumber in that raid. The next night, they came back for the other half, logs and all.

This will continue until The Pond finally freezes over. It’s a rough six weeks of the year for a birch.


Summer ’22 Wrap-up

Data credit: ACCAP; Graphic credit: @AlaskaWx

The Lower 48 remains caught up in the heat of summer, but autumn has taken hold in Alaska. The seasonal graphic that AlaskaWx puts together is a review that I always enjoy, so I’m sharing it here.

Weather-wise, Alaska was all over the map this past summer. Fairbanks had one of our driest summers on record, while Anchorage had a top three driest June, only to then see a top three wettest August.

Toolik Lake had snow in July, while Denali Park saw the white stuff accumulate in August.

The Southeast had an early heatwave, and Cold Bay saw a record early first freeze.

Overall, Alaska has seen 3.11 million acres burn to wildfire, which is the seventh largest burn season since 1950.