I suppose I’m creating this piece as much to remind me of the winter to this point – one which I’ve thoroughly embraced as my first ‘real’ Alaskan winter – as to share with you some thoughts and images. Without question this winter has been extreme and, no surprise, I’ve learned quite a bit more about typical Alaskan weather conditions in the winter months (November through mid-March). As I write this piece I’m seeing overcast skies with an air temp of 34.7° F (1.5° C) after never dropping below 32.8° F (0.4° C) overnight. Yesterday saw light morning snow become briefly heavy in the early afternoon before mixing with and finally changing over to freezing rain and then just rain. For a while conditions were very severe in terms of visibility and traction on the Spur.
I’ve talked with long time locals who claim freezing rain used to be very uncommon and when it did occur it happened as fall slipped into winter and again when winter finally released its grip and acceded to spring. Yet during my four winters up here I’ve seen the dreaded stuff every winter. But I’m really not complaining as this has been a much more typical south central Alaska winter and in being so we’ve seen extremes. Just three days back I saw -14° F (-25.6° C) in ‘downtown’ Talkeetna and the next morning my large circular bimetallic outdoor thermometer showed -19.5° F (-28.6° C) which was verified by my Davis Vantage Pro 2 wireless weather station. But these temps pale next to the string of four days from January 17th through January 20th when we saw lows on January 18th of -32.1° F (-35.6° C) and on January 19th of -41.3° F (-40.7° C); the high on the 18th was -20.1° F (-28.9° C) and on the 19th we saw just -15.5° F (-26.4° C). Our snow pack was a healthy 32.5″ (82.6 cm) before yesterday’s mess; even though we received 1.5″ (3.8 cm) of heavy, wet snow the warm temps and rain really did a number of the snow depth compressing it to 26.5″ (67.3 cm) which I reported to CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow network) this morning. Looking out my office window I can see water dripping from the snow and ice atop the roof; given there’s no direct sunlight this is due only to the warm temps.
Here, then, is a collage of recent images reflecting my first ‘real’ Alaskan winter; hope you enjoy:
How odd. Somehow I thought the Spur Highway was only on the Kenai. I am so glad I am home this year! I love winter-and snow.
I’d bet there are a number of ‘Spur Highways’ in our majestic state. The local ‘Spur’ I wrote about in my recent post is well-known for being a fourteen mile road from the Parks Highway (AK 3) to the village of Talkeetna; it is the only land route into the village. I have driven the ‘Kenai Spur Highway’ in the peninsula many years back when heading south from ‘Captain Cook State Recreation Area’ after a couple of fun days spent in the area.
Capt Cook Park is near where my house lives. Kind of. When I was a teen our youth group would play capture the flag out there. One of the areas to hide the flag was under a tree A tree with an eagle nest. It was perfect protection. Anytime someone went near the flag it bothered the eagles and the team would know to run and keep it safe! Probably not an acceptable thing to do today, but we had a blast!
Interesting; I have video of a young eagle perching in a tree just off the water line in Captain Cook SRS. It was very aware of me but didn’t seem to concerned as I maneuvered for a good angle. That is a beautiful area but then most of the Kenai is gorgeous as is the entire state!
yes, it is.
I concur with you this winter has been more like winters of old when I first arrived in Alaska. But for the first time in two decades I watched the abundance of snow and -40 degree temps from 4,000 miles away. The funny thing was though I lived through many winters like this one, witnessing it from afar I wondered how could anyone exist in that weather. Guess that is the reality of perspective…
Yep, in the end Einstein had it correct; ‘everything is relative’!