Most of the wildfires burning in Alaska right now are near the coast, but smoke from those fires have finally made its way into Interior Alaska. The sun was a bright orange pumpkin on Sunday morning.
The largest wildfire right now is the East Fork Fire near the community of St Marys. At 122,000 acres burned, it is the largest tundra fire since 2007, and the second largest in the past 40 years. St Marys is being evacuated, and the fire is now threatening other communities. The fire was started by lightning.
According to the BLM and Alaska Fire Service, Alaska has seen 314,057 acres burned so far this fire season. That is particularly note worthy, since it is already more than the entire season in 2020 and 2021.
As for the Interior, Fairbanks has now gone 25 days without measurable rainfall. It is a rare summer dry streak, as we have only seen two years with more: 1947 (28 days) and 1957 (26 days).
In the 99 years of record keeping within Denali National Park, the winter of 2021-22 was the record setter. 176 inches of snow fell at park headquarters this past winter, breaking the 174″ of 1970-71.
As of May 15, there were still 33″ of snow on the ground at the park’s headquarters, far above average for this late in the season.
It’s been a tough winter for wildlife, particularly moose, who have had to fight the deep drifts. Both moose and bears have been traveling on the park road, so traffic has been limited past Sable Pass. Bicyclists normally can travel up & down the park road, but with the stressed wildlife, that will remain limited until the snow melts.
The shuttle bus will only be traveling as far as Pretty Rocks, due to the road collapse from the melting ice formation.
The park’s visitor center will be open for the first time since 2019, and the park’s sled dog kennel will also be open for tours. 2022 is the 100th anniversary for the Denali Park Sled Dog Kennel.
No one was surprised to hear the National Weather Service issuing flood watches and warnings throughout Alaska’s Interior this past weekend. With a Top Ten Snowfall this past winter, we have been readying for the coming melt.
Manley Hot Springs is one of the first communities to come under water. An ice dam on the Tanana River has caused water to back up into Manley. As of Sunday morning, as many as 75 residents in the lower areas of the town had been displaced, many of which were seeking shelter in the Manley Hot Springs Lodge.
Reports have ice starting to move on the Tanana, which would alleviate the flooding.
A Flood Watch had been issued for Eagle on the Yukon River, as well as Hughes on the Koyukuk. Ice now appears to be moving on both rivers and those two watches have been cancelled as of Sunday afternoon.
Temperatures for the coming week are going to dip down into the low to mid 40’s F for highs, with a (relatively) rare chance of May snow for Fairbanks. Even though we are all ready for summer and its warmer temps, a slow melt would be a good thing.
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.
The Atigun River HADS station recorded the State’s first -50F reading of the season on Sunday morning. The weather station is located just north of Atigun Pass, where the Dalton Highway crosses the Atigun River.
Monday morning will bring temperatures close to -40 to Fairbanks. The last time Fairbanks saw -40 in November was in 2011.
Between 1930 and 2015, Fairbanks had a total of five Halloweens with less than an inch of snow on the ground. Counting this year, we have had five years since 2015 with less than an inch of snow on the ground. Currently, we have a dusting, and with 40F degrees forecast for Halloween Weekend, the odds are in favor of a brown Halloween for 2021.
It’s tire changeover time in the northern half of Alaska. Studded tires can now be put on the vehicles, as of September 16th. Remember, if you procrastinate, the lines at the tire shop only get longer.
Think it’s too early to put on the set of Blizzaks?
This is an image from Hatcher Pass on Thursday, which is in the southern half of the state, and must remain stud-free until October 1.
Nichols was mainly known for painting the American Midwest, but he also did several with scenes from Alaska. Nichols, who traveled extensively during his lifetime, passed away at the age of 91 in 1995.