Alaskan Skies & Weather

A number of readers of this blog have commented on the images I sometimes include with a posting and quite a number of folks have expressed real amazement at some of the collages I’ve blogged.  A recent reader shared some thoughts with me; from these grew the idea of creating this piece which is really a blog regarding Alaskan skies and weather scenes.  This was very difficult to create simply because I have so many beautiful images of The Last Frontier’s skies and unusual/extreme weather.  I believe my initial perusal left me with almost sixty images; from these I managed to winnow it down to ‘just’ thirty six and from there down to the following 18 images.  I will most likely do another such posting down the road and include the remainder of the final 36 images which just failed to make the cut.  So, for your enjoyment, I offer you eighteen images of ‘Alaskan Skies & Weather’…

GunsiteMountainSnow2.jpg

This is Gunsite Mountain just north of the Glenn Highway.  If you look closely at the ‘dished’ area you will see a tiny square notch with the overcast gray sky visible beyond; hence the mountain’s name.

The Spur after the storm.JPG

A portion of ‘the Spur’ which runs from the ‘Y’ (intersection of the ‘Y’ and the Parks Highway also known as AK 3) to the village of Talkeetna after an overnight early spring snowfall

SR Basin-taiga XC.jpg

Savage River Basin in Denali NP&P on an early September afternoon.  The taiga and tussock tundra are in full fall color; this image has not been manipulated in any manner and I wasn’t using any special filters.  It is just this colorful!

Lil Cloud That Could.JPG

I spied this ‘Little Cloud That Could’ on the Parks Highway just outside Houston.  I don’t know if the rain was reaching the ground but I’d never seen just a single small cloud in an almost clear sky trying so hard to make rain!

AK 11 Orange Trees CU.JPG

Hill side fall color along the Elliot Highway (AK 2) between its junction with the Dalton Highway (AK 11) and Fairbanks.  Notice the small line of orange colored trees just a bit above and left of center; such color is rare up here due to a dearth of hardwood trees.

Thunderstorm Outflow at Fish Lake.JPG

Classic thunderstorm out-wash above the float plane docks on Fish Lake around Mile 9.5 on the Spur.  The thunderstorms were forming along the Talkeetna Mountains to the east.

Timbers Red Sunset2.jpg

A fiery red sunset over Kachemak Bay as seen from the front porch of a magical little cabin in Kachemak Bay SP&P named ‘Timbers’.

Timbers-Fog.jpg

The same view as above but on a different day and time.

NL2.jpg

The incredible Aurora Borealis as seen from a neighbor’s place perhaps six miles north of my home.  The late fall/early winter of 2016/2017 featured amazingly clear skies and intense auroral activity.  Many nights I lay in bed and just watched ‘Nature’s Light Show’ for hours.

RichardsonHighwaySnow4.jpg

The eastern Alaska Range as seen from a pipeline access pull out on The Richardson Highway (AK 4) maybe thirty miles south of Delta Junction.  It was early September of 2000 when this image was captured looking SSW and a brief snow event had occurred across the night.

AK 11 Alyeska Pipeline Into Fog WA.JPG

Split layer fog is relatively common in Alaska and this is a classic shot of said weather phenomena.  Just left of center is the Alyeska pipeline with the road splitting off to the right.  This was taken somewhere along the Dalton Highway (AK 11).

Foraker Forming Lenticular Cloud in AM.JPG

Mighty Mount Foraker (17,400 feet in elevation) is tall enough to form its own weather as evidenced by the lenticular clouds forming above its peak.  This image was taken from the Spur around Mile 5.

AK 11 Alyeska Pullout Sunset 6.JPG

A ‘molten’ orange-red sunset taken from a pull-out along the Dalton Highway (AK 11) just a bit north of Coldfoot.

MtIliamna Sunset.jpg

A majestic early September sunset above Mount Illiamna which is a four peaked active ‘strato-volcano’ exceeding 10,000 feet in elevation.  The image was taken at Stariski SRS and is looking west across Cook Inlet.

DaltonHighway-Sky.jpg

The huge Alaskan sky as seen from a gravel pit pull-out along the Dalton Highway (AK 11).  My buddy was using his video camera to capture the same ‘big sky’ effect.

Blowing Snow on Spur.JPG

It’s Alaska so ya gotta have one image of snow falling, right..?  This was taken in January of 2017 as I was driving south down the Spur from the village to my home.

Clouds Then Mountains CU.JPG

Close up of an unknown glacier in the Kenai Mountains with a thick cloud layer almost cutting off the tops of the mountains; the image was taken from the foothills around Homer and looking across Kachemak Bay.

Denali in Morning Alpenglow adj.JPG

Mighty Denali (20,287 feet in elevation) cloaked in morning Alpenglow as seen from the famous overlook on the Spur.  From this point the village of Talkeetna is just another couple miles up the road.

 

Alpenglow

One of the events I cherish in my new home is viewing true ‘alpenglow’ up here in ‘The Last Frontier’ and to this point I’ve seen some marvelous examples of the effect. To those unsure true ‘alpenglow’ is caused when the sun is just below the horizon – this can occur just before sunrise or just after sunset – such that the more energetic (i.e. higher frequency) portion of the visible light segment of the electromagnetic spectrum isn’t bent enough by the earth’s atmosphere and radiates into space while the less energetic (i.e lower frequency) portion – in this case the reds – are bent just enough to strike taller objects like mountains.  The phenomena is always very short duration and requires a clear atmosphere.  There are other instances of a pink to red light striking mountains which technically do not meet the above definition but are also referred to to as ‘alpenglow’.  While I prefer the images of true alpenglow I have included a number of examples of both effects in the following pictures.  This effect is just one more demonstration of the incredible natural beauty that truly makes ‘The Great Land’ unique and so memorable!

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Mt Foraker, a 17,000 foot high mountain, shows true alpenglow on its western face

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Denali and Mt Hunter awash in early morning alpenglow

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Early morning alpenglow on The Alaska Range

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Just the peak of Denali showing evening alpenglow

Unknown peak in Denali NP&P awash in alpenglow

Unknown peak in Denali NP&P awash in alpenglow

Since So Many Folks Seem To Enjoy Glaciers…

exitglacier-p-distance

This is a shot of the Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords NP with its run-off in the foreground; the glacier is just a bit north of Seward in the Kenai Peninsula.  It is an alpine style glacier and sadly has been retreating very quickly across the past few decades

Portage Glacier 2

Here is the Portage Glacier which is located in the northern Kenai Peninsula; it is a classic Alpine Glacier

AK 8 Alaska Range w-Glacier

The Alaska Range is full of glaciers and there’s an unnamed glacier sweeping down from The Alaska Range foothills in this image taken from the Paxson end of the Denali Highway (AK 8).  This image was taken in early September of 2002 and although it was snowy and cold in the immediate vicinity of the mountains just getting a few tens of miles to the north or south saw sunshine and air temps in the fifties.

Matanuska Glacier Head On

The toe of the mighty Matanuska Glacier as seen from a school driveway off the Glenn Highway.  This glacier cut the Matanuska Valley which runs for over 100 miles east-west and separates the Chugach Mountains to the south from the Talkeetna Mountains to the north

Not All Glaciers Are Snowy & White!

Muldrow Glacier fade to AK Range

Just beyond the fall color tundra lies a portion of the Muldrow Glacier in Denali NP&P; it is the dark colored undulations that fade back towards The Alaska Range.  This glacier originates from Denali and is the landing field for the bush planes transporting mountain climbers for an attempt to summit Denali.  At one time this portion of the glacier was snowy and white but over time the winds in the Park have blown considerable soil onto the glacier and then local fauna has taken root and is actually growing on the soil covering the ice and snow.

Camping in Kachemak Bay State Park

Camping in Kachemak Bay State Park

In early June of 2000 I spent four days packing and camping in Kachemak Bay SP which is across Kachemak Bay from Homer and is accessible only by water or air. Black bears were frequently seen which required me to store my supplies in a BRFC (Bear Resistant Food Container) which I chose to hang from some trees (see orange cylinder in roughly center screen). I set up my tent to give some scale to the image; once I finished I moved it about 60 yards away as under these circumstances it would not be wise to camp so close to one’s food!