There is a lot of snow on the ground still. Anywhere from 12-18″ of depth, but the 50F degrees this past weekend has put the melt on. Lots of sun right now too:
Length of day: 16 hrs, 53 mins
Length of visible light: 19 hrs, 17 mins
Today will be 6 mins and 59 secs longer than yesterday.
The beavers have open water in front of their lodge, which happens for two reasons. Their swimming back and forth helps to keep the ice thinner, but there is also a methane release point in the same location, which helps to do the same thing. In fact, the circles of diminished ice in the background, are also methane pockets.
Local reports have had several bear sightings this past week. The warmer temps and increased daylight have woke the bruins from their winter slumber. Only one casualty that I know of so far: A 50 pound bag of dog food that was left outside in a shed.
The photo was taken by an NPS employee out at Kennecott Mine in Wrangell-St Elias National Park & Preserve.
We are quickly coming to the deadline to get Ice Classic tickets into the red barrel. The deadline to have your guesses in is April 5th.
The Nenana Ice Classic, Alaska’s gambling addiction of choice, was first started in 1917, when railroad engineers, working on the fledgling Alaska Railroad, started a pool to guess when the ice would go out on the Tanana River. Alaskans have been taking their shot at the prize ever since.
The ice was last measured at 32″ thick on March 24 near the tripod.
A ticket will set you back $2.50, which is good for one guess. The winning guess in 2021 was worth $233,591.
It’s still winter in Alaska: it was -10F on Sunday morning, and expected to drop to -20F Monday night, but the switch has been flipped. The sled dogs are running, the ice carvings are on display, and the aurora shows itself almost nightly.
March in Alaska.
Already, we have over 13 hours of visible light during the day, and our days are gaining length by almost 7 minutes with each spin of the Earth.
Ducks, geese, swans and cranes have all come back to the neighborhood. The back pond still has ice, although it’s looking more than a bit dodgy and should go out this weekend. The beaver is patrolling the edges, occasionally flushing a pair of mallards from the open water to the ice, where they stand patiently waiting for the open water to be beaver free. Even the gulls are back, swooping low over the pond’s edge looking for the perfect nesting spot.
On Monday morning, when I was getting things ready for the day’s job, I heard the first Sandhill Crane calls of the season. Their ancient, rattling bugle echoed across the valley floor, and I stopped immediately to search for the source. It was a pair of cranes, and they flew in low as they announced their return to the valley.
By Tuesday morning, the sounds of the sandhills could be heard from all directions in the valley.
The photo was taken last spring at Creamers Field Waterfowl Refuge before the birds spread out across the state and beyond.
People from Outside are often amazed at how short the “transition” seasons are in Interior Alaska. Often, spring and autumn seem like they are only days long.
Spring is especially quick to show itself in Fairbanks. Our trees literally go from brown twigs to green leaves in a matter of hours. On Sunday morning, the hillsides were a drab gray and brown, by afternoon, they were a vibrant green.
A pollen scientist by the name of Jim Anderson, working for the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks, starting logging the official Greenup Day in 1974. He continued to do so until his death in 2007. Ted Fathauer, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Fairbanks, independently did the same thing from his place on Chena Ridge. Fathauer died in 2013.*
Current meteorologist, Rick Thoman, has taken up the green lantern, and called Mother’s Day as the official Greenup Day of 2020.
When I say that there is nothing gradual about the leaves coming out in Alaska’s Interior, I’m not kidding. It is a sudden burst of green that immediately overtakes the land. It doesn’t come in the form of a wave, it just comes, all at once. Our days are over 18 hours long now, and the amount of visible light is closing in on 22 hours. That’s a lot of photosynthesis power.