Tag Archives: heat

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.


Falling short of 90

Map credit: NOAA/ACCAP

Even though Alaska had a warm and very dry start to summer, the state has not seen 90F yet. although some recording stations have hit 89F. A few northern locations in the Yukon and Northwest Territories broke the 90 degree mark, but none in Alaska.


A very dry June

Map by @Climatologist49

The months of May and June in 2022 were the driest, statewide, on record. The period of January through June was the fifth warmest on record. Amazing, considering the staggering amount of snow we had, up to New Year’s. The tap was simply shut off.

The Clear Fire; Photo credit: Alaska Fire Service

So far in the 2022 fire season, Alaska has seen 2.74 million acres burn. The Clear Fire, near Anderson, Alaska and the Clear Air Force Base, is now pushing 70,000 acres and is right up to the Space Force Base boundaries. It is one of three fires that account for most of the smoke driven towards Fairbanks.

Fires over 50,000 acres; Map credit: Alaska Fire Service

With the 2.74 million acres burned, we have passed the entire 2019 fire season, and 2022 is already the 8th largest season in acres burned.

Water drop over the Clear Fire; Photo credit: Alaska Fire Service

I included the final photo simply because I love the image. Kudos to the Fire Service Photographer who captured it.


Wildfire Update:

Current wildfires over 100,000 acres; Map credit: Alaska Fire Service

The state of Alaska currently has over 225 wildfires burning within its borders and over 1000 firefighters battling the blazes. So far this fire season, over 2 million acres have burned, which is the earliest date to hit that milestone in the past two decades.

Wildfire acreage; Graph credit: ACCAP

A red flag warning has been in effect throughout Interior Alaska, and fireworks were banned over the weekend. The Borough implemented a $1000 fine for anyone caught setting off fireworks, which did make for a relatively quiet 4th of July.

Nature ignored the fines however, as we have had a very active few days of lightning. Between June 28 and July 4th, the state had 25,000 strikes, and Tuesday alone saw another 4500 lightning strikes, which started 13 new wildfires.

I have not seen the final numbers for June, but the month was expected to contend with the driest Junes on record statewide. Which is saying something, as it’s a pretty big state.


Shades of 2004

ACRC Panorama Cam from UAF Campus

Fairbanks is smoked in. We have a wildfire 60 miles to the southwest and another about the same distance to the northwest. Both were started by lightning.

I went out for lunch today. Upon my return, I smelled like a campfire.

It’s thick.

PM2.5 Levels on Tuesday

The smoke is not as bad as in 2004, when over 6 million acres burned up across the state. That year, Fairbanks was within a ring of fire, and a change in the wind direction did very little for relief.

Still, it’s bad enough. On the plus side, I hear the pollen count is down, but that has never bothered me anyway. The forecast says we are a week away from any chance of rain.


Lat 65 Roundup

Lightning strikes on Monday; Map credit: AICC

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.

Smoke rolling in on Wednesday night


ProNyne Motorsports Museum

Pawtucket, RI

On our off day between hockey days, we drove out to Rhode Island to check out the ProNyne Motorsports Museum. We had a Pawtucket guide along for the ride as well, a newly minted Puckhead from Australia.

Dan Meservey’s “Coke Machine”

ProNyne is dedicated to New England’s racing history, and the museum is an absolute treasure trove of New England racing memorabilia.

The Bugs Stevens section

Curator Ric Mariscal was kind enough to open the doors and give us a tour on a Friday, and he even turned on a heater, although I’m not sure any of us would have minded if that had skipped that part.

The museum is packed, but well organized, although we definitely imagined what an adventure it would be to get one of the cars out for a special event.

Ole Blue

Every corner comes loaded with stories, even the barber chair. When you stop in, you should ask about the barber chair. The walls are covered with photos, and the books and articles are readily available to peruse. The place is a researcher’s dream; trust me, we had one with us.

Bill Slater’s Studebaker

New England is not my “neck of the woods” by any stretch of the imagination, and I found myself absolutely fascinated by one car in particular: Bill Slater’s 1954 Studebaker. The car was found in a field, and now rests peacefully against an interior wall of the museum. For me, it did not take a lot of imagination to picture the Studebaker speeding around Daytona at 100mph with Slater behind the wheel.

The #23 Studebaker in better days
Bill Slater driving the 23 Studebaker in 1963; Lee Roy Yarbrough is in the 70 car
The ’54 Studebaker in the “Wild” Bill Slater corner

For anyone remotely interested in racing, the ProNyne Motorsports Museum is well worth the visit. It was an unexpected gem of a destination on this trip.


Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes

National Parks Week: Day Two

The Valley, several years after the Novarupta eruption

The Ukak River Valley was dramatically altered on 6 June 1912, when Novarupta erupted for over 60 hours. The volcanic blast was the largest of the 20th Century. Pyroclastic flows filled the Ukak Valley, which was followed by a dumping of volcanic ash. The intense heat, trapped by the ash, took decades to cool. Water, also trapped by the ash, became superheated steam, and escaped through a series of fumaroles, which inspired the renaming of the valley.

The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes today

Photos credit: Katmai National Park & Preserve


Warm Week Ahead

Map and info credit: NOAA

That is, at least for Alaska.

On Sunday morning, it was -22F at the cabin, and just a few days before, it was at -31 when I went to work. The temperature has been rising throughout the day, and it looks to be a warm week for us, with temps forecast at above freezing.

As often happens, when temps rise in Alaska during the winter months, temps can cool a bit down in the Lower 48. Although, that’s not to say they will be seeing too many -31F’s.


“Ice Edge”

The Ikaaġvik Sikukun Story:

The reduction of sea ice off of Alaska’s coast is the subject of the new documentary “Ice Edge”. Iñupiaq residents of Kotzebue went to work with researchers at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks and Columbia University to document the changes, as well as look towards the future.

Seals are a vital component to the Native diet along Alaska’s northwest coast. The study finds that over the past 17 years, the seal hunting season has decreased at least one day, and sometimes more, each year, due to the change in sea ice.

The documentary can be watched on YouTube in its entirety. It is sectioned into 14 segments, to make it easier to watch a little at a time. On Thursday, one can join a viewing party and take part in a Q&A afterwards, on youtube, facebook, and other social media suspects. The live viewing party begins at 10am AST on Thursday January 27.