We start gaining darkness in four months.
Tag Archives: Solstice
Happy Winter Solstice
On the Winter Solstice, we neither gain nor lose daylight here in Interior Alaska. The day today will be the same length as yesterday: 3 hours, 47 minutes long.
But tomorrow, tomorrow we will gain 20 seconds. Christmas Eve will see a gain of a minute, and by New Year’s, our daylight will last more than 4 hours.
It’s a big deal here in the north.
There will be a double treat in the skies this year, as we get to experience the rare “double conjunction”. Saturn and Jupiter will be so close together in the low southwestern sky, that they will appear as one bright point. The best time for viewing will be one hour after sunset.
The last time Jupiter and Saturn put on this “joint force” in the sky was in 1623.
And for any readers south of the equator:
Our length of day has dropped below 12 hours, here in the Interior of Alaska. 11 hours and 22 minutes, to be exact. The length of visible light has shrunk to 12 hours 59 minutes. Yesterday had 6 minutes and 38 seconds of more daylight.
There have been several hard frosts already, but no snow in Fairbanks. The low, so far at the cabin this autumn, was 22F.
Check those headlamps; it’s all downhill until December 21.
Summer. The residents of Interior Alaska live for Alaskan summers. The difference from winter to summer is extreme.
The Aurora viewing season officially came to an end on Sunday. We have too much daylight, and will not have a chance to see the Northern Lights for 91 days.
On May 15th, Fairbanks went into our summer period of civil twilight. We have enough natural light to partake in outdoor activities 24/7.
May 18th is the average date for the final freeze of the spring months in Fairbanks.
From May 29th, until July 14th, the sun will set after midnight.
The Summer Solstice, Fairbanks’ favorite day, is on June 20th.
Night in Fairbanks will turn dark again on September 4th. A sad day indeed.
Interior Alaska had a decent cold snap drop in for the Winter Solstice and Christmas holiday. From December 17-28, Fairbanks did not see temperatures climb above zero. By Alaska standards, the period was neither long nor extreme, but we did make some ice, as they say. For comparison sake: The 11 day streak of below zero is tied for 42nd longest in the past 50 years. *
The Koyukuk & Yukon River Valleys saw the largest drops, as Allakaket and Manley Hot Springs fell to -60F and -65F respectively. The Manley temp was the coldest officially recorded in Alaska since Fort Yukon dipped to -66F in 2012.
Fairbanks officially reached -40F for the first time this season on Dec 27. That was the only day it dropped down to -40 at the cabin, as well. We had not seen -40F in Fairbanks since January 12, 2019, which is quite the stretch for us.
On December 28, the Deadhorse airport combined -38F temperatures with a 21 mph breeze, to offer a -73 degree windchill to residents of Prudhoe Bay.
No record lows were set during the 11 day period. The record low statewide for the month of December is -72F, which happened in Chicken, Alaska on New Year’s Eve of 1999.
In spite of the cold snap, there is little doubt that 2019 will be the warmest on record for Alaska. Currently, the temp outside the cabin remains above zero, some birch logs are smoldering in the wood stove, and a window is open, as I type this out, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt.
Interior Cabin Life.
A video of time-lapse photos by Fairbanks photographer Eric Muehling. 3 hours and 40 minutes compressed into 1 minute and 15 seconds. The interval between each photograph is 10 seconds.
Now the pendulum swings back, and we start to gain daylight once again. Life in the Far North.
The Midnight Sun Baseball Game has been played on every summer solstice in Fairbanks since 1906. The game starts at 10:30pm, and has never been played under artificial lights.
On a separate weather note: Fairbanks saw it’s first 80F degree day of the year on Thursday, June 20. That’s 10 days later than the average for the first 80. We’ve been dry and quite sunny, with temps basically running in the 70’s up until the Big Eight-Zero finally arrived.
The warmest Summer Solstice on record in Fairbanks happened on 21 June 1991, when the official airport thermometer hit 94F.
Have a great Solstice!
It’s going to be an active Solstice, with a Full “Cold Moon”, and the Ursid meteor shower. The American Meteor Society expects peak activity to be around 11 sporadic meteors per hour just before dawn in the mid-Northern Hemisphere. With the full moon, they may be a tad difficult to spot.
Also early Friday morning, Mercury and Jupiter can be seen in the southeast sky just before dawn at only .9 degrees apart, which is about two moon-diameters.
The Fairbanks Weather Almanac:
Details for Dec 20, 2018
Low Temp………….. -24F
Avg Low………….. -13F
Record Low……….. -48F
High Temp……………- 7F
Avg High…………….+ 5F
Wind……………….. 0 mph
Length of Day………. 3 hours, 42 minutes; which was NO LOSS from the previous day!