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Katmai, Alaska; circa 1912

Katmai after the Novarupta Eruption; Photo was taken 9 weeks after the eruption

The eruption of Novarupta on 6 June 1912 was the largest of the 20th Century. The village of Katmai was destroyed in the eruption, buried under as much as 18 inches of volcanic ash.


Mornings with the Moose

I’m ready for my closeup

With the dumping of snow, and especially the layer of freezing rain in-between, moose have had some challenges getting around. Like many of us, they will gravitate towards the route with the least resistance, which puts them on our trails, driveways and outhouse paths.

A moose cow and calf were hanging out before the snow storm, and they have been regulars since. My shoveled paths have become their trails, and the trees in the yard have received a decent trimming.

Things became a bit cozier when the temps dropped into the -35F range a week or so ago. I was laying in bed one morning after the alarm went off, debating the advantage of employment, when I heard a creaking coming from right outside the front door. Looking out the window, I could see a moose standing on the front walk. Actually, I could not see the whole moose, as it was larger than my window frame, but going out to warm up the truck would take some extra precaution.

When I came home that night, I could see the bed the moose made just off my walkway, underneath a large spruce tree. No doubt, it was warmer being up against the cabin like it was. I didn’t mind the sleeping arrangements as much as the several piles of moose droppings, and it was the first time I had ever used ice melt on my walk to break up moose urine.

The next morning, the same thing happened, and I heard the moose get up outside the cabin after the alarm went off.

With the recent rise in temperature, the moose have been sleeping elsewhere, but they still stop by almost daily to trim a few trees.

If moose nuggets were gold…


Hunga Tonga Eruption

An undersea volcano erupted Saturday near the island of Tonga. The satellite imagery above is pretty intense, and the ash plume reached 20km above the earth.

Tsunami alerts were put out almost immediately, and the island of Tongatapu had waves flooding into the capital.

Courtesy of NWS/NOAA

The tsunami reached Alaska’s southern coast this morning, with King Cove recording the highest waves at 3.3 feet.

Air pressure change

That wasn’t the only wave to hit Alaska from the eruption. The shock wave of the event caused a drastic air pressure change over the state as well.

Courtesy of the NWS and NOAA

Can you hear a volcano erupt from almost 6000 miles away? It turns out that you can. Many people, who were up between 3:30-4:00 am on Saturday reported hearing a sonic boom. It’s telling that many Alaskans initially reported being awaken by a large boom, and most of them assumed it was a “moose on the porch”. Various infrasound recorders placed around the state by Alaska Volcano Observatory confirmed that the sound heard was the volcanic pressure wave, not a moose.

I find that absolutely fascinating.

A second eruption pressure wave traveled over Anchorage 19.3 hours after the first wave, traveling in the opposite direction.

As of this writing, details of the damage remained sketchy at best. It is known that waves entered Tonga’s capital, and that a thick layer of volcanic ash was dumped on the island. No deaths have been reported at this time, and it is not known how many islands have seen damage from tsunamis or ash fall. Tonga’s internet service, much like Alaska, is served via undersea cables. It is thought that those cables were damaged in the eruption.

New Zealand has sent military aircraft to Tonga to assess the damage.


Jumping the glacier?

The Alaska Cruise Ship Industry is (roughly) forecasting a record 1.6 million tourists in 2022. That would be an increase of 18% over the previous record 1.3 million in 2019.

After two disastrous years due to the pandemic, I can see why the industry is desperate for a good year. But record breaking? That seems like a stretch, and might be a bit premature.

Will people be traveling at that level in 2022? Can the cruise ships, and more importantly, the small coastal businesses find the staff to handle those kind of numbers? 2022 will no doubt remain an interesting travel year within the 49th State.


A picture is worth a thousand flakes…


Holidaze Travel

The Aurora Winter Train, Alaska Railroad Depot; Fairbanks

I had several friends travel Outside over the Holidays, while I was quite content to enjoy the cabin life in Fairbanks. Getting out wasn’t the problem. It was getting back to Alaska which has proved challenging. Most friends had layovers in Seattle, which were long enough to officially be reclassified as detours. One had a detour in Anchorage; getting oh so close to Fairbanks, but yet divided by a mountain of snow.

Two friends attempted to travel from Arizona to Fairbanks. There was a detour in Seattle, followed by a last minute flight to Anchorage. A second detour was then encountered. All flights between Alaska’s largest cities were booked out for days. Determined to get home, they booked a ride on the Alaska Railroad. I was excited for them, probably more excited than they were. I have never ridden that set of rails in the winter.

Out of the blue, I received a text from them. They were in Denali Park. “How long is this ride?” they asked. I hesitated, but eventually told them it was a 12 hour trip. One way. The Alaska Railroad is not high speed travel.

Late on New Year’s Day, I get a call. Taxis from the depot are three hours out. It’s -35F, but I head out the door to provide pickup/limo service.

The locomotive did look good, all decked out in Christmas lights.


We have snow

We had a very wet December

I was debating taking last week off completely from the blog, then the storm hit, and my days were filled with shoveling and plowing.

Officially, the ten day storm brought 30.2 inches of snow. You’re thinking: “Piece of cake”. It probably would have been if we didn’t have 1-1/2″ of freezing rain in the middle of the 2-1/2 feet of snow. It was simply a mess out there.

In the end, I had 52″ of snow fall at the cabin in the month of December. That’s good for second place in all recorded Decembers, and the fourth ever snowiest month. Total precipitation rivaled August 1967, when Fairbanks had its historic flood.

Not to be left out, Denali National Park HQ recorded 78″ of snow in December, breaking the monthly record.

We do not have any snow in the coming week’s forecast, which I’m beyond thrilled about. We have some digging out to do, but we seem to be heading back to more normal weather. Sunday morning saw temps at -40F/C. Thank goodness.

There may be a car under there

Happy Winter Solstice

Path of the sun, Nome, Alaska December 21, no year given


Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Late October, 1941

Even by Fairbanks standards…

… This could be bad:

Don’t forget to plug in your vehicle…