Tag Archives: heat

Moose Snorts


Moose out for a swim

I spent one day this week, out in the sun, finishing up a rope bridge that I was commissioned to build. The decking of the bridge had been completed last fall, and now I was back to add the rope-work for the “railings”.

I heard the moose munching on willows long before I saw it. They are not quiet eaters. A shrub or tree would move, but it took quite some time for the moose to show itself. Oddly enough, it was when I was out on the bridge weaving the manila rope into place that the moose reacted. It kept snorting at me.

At first, I was a bit offended, taking the snorts as commentary on my work. However, I came to the conclusion, that the moose simply did not like me hovering in the air, at a height allowing me to look down on the moose. As I continued to work, the snorts were then followed by hoof stomps and another snort. It really did not like me out there on the bridge. Eventually, the moose had enough of my bridge building, and I heard it splash about in the pond behind the house. It had gone for a swim. It was a warm 75F degrees, and I couldn’t blame it.

Unfortunately, the pictures are pretty poor, as I only had the cellphone with me on the job site, and I’m shooting into the sun on top of it. I watched it swim around, and splash about the pond for a good 15 minutes, before I had to force myself back to work.


The Big Q: II

Comic credit: Nuggets by Jamie Smith


Temperature Inversions

We have been getting rain for much of the night here in the Interior of Alaska. As I get ready to turn in for the night, I noticed that we are currently 34 degrees warmer than Minneapolis, and 2 degrees warmer than San Antonio, Texas.


Seeing Red


Forecast for Alaska temperature difference from normal on Saturday. (WeatherBell.com)

No matter where one goes in town, everyone is talking about the weather. It’s hot. For Fairbanks, Alaska… it’s damn hot. Very few people are thrilled with it either.

Fairbanks is virtually assured that this month of December will be the warmest on record.


Fairbanks weather data through Dec. 19. National Weather Service

Every day this month, we have seen temperatures above normal. Throw out the first two days of the month, and we have been well above normal.

It hasn’t just been Fairbanks either, this has been statewide, which is saying something. Alaska is not a small state. On December 8, Juneau hit 54 degrees, which was warmer than Houston, Texas.
In the middle of the month, Anchorage saw 4 straight days of 45 degrees or higher, which was also a record.
Eagle, Alaska on the Yukon has been 23.5 degrees above normal for the month. Kotzebue, on the west coast, has tied record highs.

In Utqiaġvi, the community formerly known as Barrow, 74 out of the last 79 days have been above normal in temperature.


Big, red blob over Alaska; big, blue, hunk of cold over midwest (Wetherbell.com)

This weather pattern is freaky, even considering recent winters. It’s just too warm for us. The roads are a slick mess, and they will remain so all winter if we don’t go below zero. The rivers are often used as highways between villages, but they have not developed enough ice for travel. In spite of open windows, I still have been letting the fire go out for much of the day.

This is ridiculous. The Big Island of Hawaii not only is getting more snow on it’s peak, but temps there are colder than Anchorage. We want our winter back.


The World’s Smallest Carnivore

As I loaded the truck this morning for today’s job, I caught a flash of white out of the corner of my eye. I stood still, watching and waiting. Sure enough, a hyper, yet timid weasel showed itself from my wood pile. It made a rush at me, stopped halfway to size me up, then ran back to the stacked firewood. I kept watching, and the weasel became bolder, venturing out further and further from the wood pile. Eventually, I was ignored completely, and the weasel went about its morning activities, hopping onto a railroad tie, and then slipping down into the marsh.

I assume it’s a least weasel, and not the short tailed variety, due to its small size. It’s coat has already changed to all white, with the exception of it’s black-tipped tail. At approximately six inches long, the weasel is a little bundle of energy. I’ve never had a weasel in my wood shed, and I always felt like I was missing one of the most important aspects of burning wood for heat. I’ve had friends with a resident weasel, and Dick Proenneke famously wrote about his, which he named Milo, in his wonderful journal: “One Man’s Wilderness”. Of course, with a home territory of several acres, the weasel may have just been visiting the wood pile. Still, I’m hoping it takes up residence, even if that multi room condo will be decreasing in size as we progress through the winter months.

Weasels can be ferocious predators, and will take on animals much larger than themselves. With their high metabolic rate, weasels need to consume roughly 40% of their body weight daily.


90 Degrees


The South Fork Salcha Fire as seen from Quartz Lake

Fairbanks hit 90 degrees on Friday, which broke the record of 87 set in 1957. It was also the second earliest date, Fairbanks has seen the temperature reach 90. That record is 28 May, which was set in 1947. 90 degrees, is just too damn hot for Alaska, and those temps can stay in Texas. Luckily, temps are dropping down to a more Alaskan-like 75 for Saturday.

Lightning caused the South Fork Salcha fire, which has closed the Richardson Highway tonight near Birch Lake. The lightning strike occurred Thursday morning, and by Friday evening, the fire had reached 3600 acres. I noticed the scent of burning black spruce Friday morning, as I drove to the jobsite.

Summer has reached the Interior.


Happiness is a day without long underwear in December

Dog Days of Winter
Dog days of winter?

I arrived back in Alaska on December 7th, and today was the first day that the temperature rose above zero since my return. I have no idea how many days it was below zero prior to my return, I’m told that it had been weeks. I do know that we have seen quite a few -30’s of late.

I knew something was off around 4am, when I woke up due to being too warm. It was -8 at 6am, and by noon the temperature had risen to a balmy +12F. Suddenly, my hat is too itchy, my coat too heavy, my feet too warm in the mukluks. It was invigorating!

The talk is for temps in the 20’s for Saturday, and I’m practically giddy.

Sometimes, it’s all about the simple pleasures in life.