As those of you who follow this blog are aware the winter in south central Alaska this year has once again been mild in terms of air temps but extremely dry in terms of precipitation. Sadly this is paralleling last winter although to this point there’s been much less precipitation and the temperatures have been much more mild. To illustrate this I give you the following synopsis:
11/13: monthly average temp 15.5 F / days below 0 F – 8 / days below -10 F – 6 / days below -15 F – 4 / days below -20 F – 2
12/13: monthly average temp 9.1 F / days below 0 F – 12 / days below -10 F – 7 / days below -15 F – 6 / days below -20 F – 3
11/14: monthly average temp 23.8 F / no days below 0 F
12/14: monthly average temp 21.0 F / no days below 0 F (NOTE: good through 12/25/14)
By the end of December in 2013 we had 29″ of snow pack; as of this morning we are less than half that amount with just 14.0″ on the ground. For someone who moved to Alaska in part to experience brutal cold and feet of snow to say these first two winters have been ‘underwhelming’ is a bit like calling Denali a ‘big hill’.
But Mother Nature did bestow a gift upon the Upper Susitna Valley across Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the form of an unexpected snow event which dropped a total of 7.7″ of snow which boosted our snow pack to the aforementioned 14″. The snow was continuous on Wednesday but rather light; on Christmas Day it was very much a ‘wave’ event with pulses of moderate snow falling briefly followed by longer periods of no snow at all. This event was just the second snowfall we’ve seen this year dropping more than 2″. The snow was much heavier north of Talkeetna towards the Alaska Range and dropped off dramatically just a bit south of here. Willow, which is 30 miles south down the Parks Highway collected just a couple inches of snow total during this same period while Wasilla which is 60 miles south of Talkeetna saw only an inch or so of new snow.
Still and all we desperately need the moisture so any snow is welcome! We sure hope we see a lot more across the next few months; otherwise this area will be indeed dry for the second straight spring and break up. While it makes the latter much more bearable overall it does not bode well for the local wildlife or the boreal forest. In trying to keep up my ‘always find that silver lining’ philosophy if the drought continues at least the mosquito hordes should be somewhat less come spring.
If I’ve learned anything in Alaska it is that Mother nature will do as she will regardless of what we humans might desire; at best we need to just get sanguine with her ways and appreciate what we do receive. I know many folks in the lower 48 are mighty happy they’ve seen a winter much more mild than the cold and snow of last year’s winter season. As it is I’m still waiting to see a real Alaskan winter. With that I’ll leave you with some images from the past couple of days; Happy New Year to one and all!