The cold snap finally ended after a couple of days of forty below. Just wanted to give us a reminder of what we missed last year, I guess. Anyway, went out on the Ski Doo yesterday to check out the trail and shovel more snow on the ramp at the creek crossing. On the way back, got this shot of the sun setting behind the ridge.
If you look closely, you can just make out the tip of one the peaks in the Alaska Range, maybe Mt. Deborah?
Went out today with the dogs. It was still a little below zero down in the valley, but good weather for running dogs.
The new boy is on the right in back (wheel). He's doing OK, just have to remember, he's in his "terrible twos," the size and strength of an adult dog, but the mind of a puppy. Great fun!
Well not exactly, but with the cold weather, it's been well below zero and only managed one dog run in the past week or so, thought it might be interesting to look at some weather stuff.
(Alaska Climate Research Center)
While we didn't set any records, last year was the sixth warmest on record. The only serious cold weather occurred in Jan. when it got down to -33 ° F. While this may seem cold, it was the first time in many years that it didn't hit -40, the benchmark up here for judging cold weather.
So here's how the really cold spells look:
It should be apparent to anyone who's not a TRump supporter that there's something going on here. There were 17 cold weather events from the 1930's to the mid '70's, then only four since then. The other striking thing is that we haven't had any fifty below weather either, not that I'm complaining. From my perspective, something is changing the jet stream, so that high pressure systems, which used to form over Alaska and produce the deep cold, no longer dominate the winter weather here. The most likely cause would be changes in oceanic circulation caused by global warming. But that's just me flapping my gums, not any real expert opinion. You can read more about it here: http://www.newsminer.com/alaska_energy_desk/fairbanks-famously-severe-cold-snaps-are-getting-less-cold-and/article_a9e6c136-146e-11e9-86e5-8f6e902f0a47 .html
Finally, here's another sunset. If there's one thing you can do at this time of year, it's get good photos in the clear, cold weather .
The average temperature for Fairbanks in December was 0.1° F, which was 4.2 ° above normal. The highest temperature was 32° on the 31st and 1st, while the lowest was -25° on the 20th. The warm spells, unusually occurred at the beginning and end of the month, when the temperature reached freezing at the airport. Precipitation totaled 0.42" for the month, which was 0.22" below normal. There were no major storms; the highest one day snowfall was 1.7" on the 18th. A total of 7.5" of snow was recorded at the airport, but some of the surrounding hills reported higher snowfalls during the month. (NWS Fairbanks Alaska Region)
The Alaska Climate Center hasn't posted it's monthly summary yet, so this chart is from the USGS weather station, just down the road from our place at the Little Chena R. bridge.
The "big news" this month was getting a new dog. Not exactly a Christmas present, he showed up at the end of the month. An old friend, Lynn, called and said she had taken in some rescue dogs (Newbies 8/6/11), was I interested in one? So a few days later she dropped off this handsome guy.
Only ran him once before the cold weather hit, it was 35 below in the flats this morning, but he did OK on the first run. so we're hoping for the best when the cold snap ends and we can get him out again. He's supposedly a husky/malemute cross and reminds me of Solo, one of the "arboreal dogs" (Solo's retired...2/28/13), who was a pretty good dog in his day.
Living up here in Alaska, we kind of forget about the traditional family Christmas, where we used to have three generations of family get togethers. Nowadays, we just have a small dinner with a few neighbors. Meant to take a photo, but like most things now, just forgot.
But did get out for a walk earlier today, where it was near twenty below down in the valley, so took this selfie when I got back.
So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or whatever it is you do, just have good one.
Getting out during the solstice, it actually lasts for several days here as the low angle of the sun doesn't really change that quickly, you can see great sunsets...
But the real excitement this week was finding the bridge washed out.
Not a great photo, but what it shows is that the near side river bank collapsed and dropped this side of the bridge about 3-4 ft. So the next project will be trying to jack up the bridge end and then move it to a more stable location. Too much fun. It wouldn't be so bad, but had just replaced the deck and some of the cross pieces a little while back (All decked out...4/25/17).
While we haven't really gotten enough snow to switch over to the sled, the transmission on the 4-wheeler has started getting troublesome to shift and a quick check on the manual shows that to fix most anything there, you pretty much have to pull the engine and split the crank cases. Since that's not likely to happen anytime soon, decided to get the Ski Doo running and break out the sled trail. Now the machine hadn't been touched since last spring, but it usually only takes a little priming to get gas to the carb and it fires right up. Well not this time. So after several hours of futile work, priming, pulling and cleaning the spark plugs, and finally using starting fluid with no result, towed it down to the garage and let it it sit inside overnight. The next day proved to be more of the same, except now I was pretty sure that the emergency stop switch had been hit, shutting off the ignition, so it was way over primed and flooded. So let it sit overnight again, this time with the plugs out figuring with plugs clean and dry, it'd start the next day. Well it didn't, so after a few more fruitless hours, swallowed my pride and called a neighbor who also has an older Skandic. "Did you try new plugs?" he asked. "No, the old ones are fine" I said. "No, I'll bet they're not, that's your problem." After further discussion, he said he thought he had a spare pair, so I went over and borrowed them. And sure enough, it fired right up with the new plugs. Go figure, the old ones fired just fine when they were out of the engine, but apparently not enough spark to fire up the still damp cylinders.
The recalcitrant Ski Doo, sitting pretty down by the wood piles. If it could talk, it'd probably smirk and say "that'll teach you for not giving me a new set of plugs."
November was unusually warm throughout the state for the second month in a row. All recording stations reported monthly mean temperatures well above average. The highest temperature deviations were recorded at stations in the Interior and the Arctic. The average temperature for Fairbanks in November was 11.7° F, which was 9.1° above normal. The highest temperature was 29° on the 26th, while the lowest was -9° on the 16th. November precipitation varied significantly between different locations throughout the state. Coastal areas were generally on the wetter side this month, while stations in the Interior were somewhat drier. While Fairbanks recorded a near normal 0.68" precipitation, Delta Junction, just 90 miles away, was the driest spot in the state, at 11% of normal. Snowfall in Fairbanks was 13" for the month. (Alaska Climate Research Center)
With the (relatively) warm weather, reinstalled the splitter and got the rest of logs bucked up and split. Now have the rear blade back on the tractor again, so am waiting for some snow. It'd be great to park the wheeler and start running dogs with the sled. Until then, just wait and watch the sun sets...
This is the time of year when there's not much sun time (about 5 hours) and even when it's up, it's pretty low in the sky. But the low angle does make for some pretty decent sunsets and the alpenglow in the trees can also be spectacular.
We got almost six inches of snow this week, so had to take the splitter off the tractor and put the rear blade on to plow the road and driveway. But since there's still a bunch of wood left to split, may put the splitter back on the tractor if there's no snow in the forecast. I can see why farmers have more than one tractor, cause it can be a real pain having to switch back and forth between implements.
Well we're not running on the sled yet, but starting to take the dogs out with the 4-wheeler. It's certainly good to get out again with the doggies and they seem to enjoy it too. Andy took this photo with her iphone, so the resolution's not great.
The 4-wheeler is an '85 Suzuki that I bought maybe 25 years ago. It had been ridden hard, so had to rebuild the rear axle, then replace the tires and brakes. About ten years ago the rascals took off without me and ran it into tree, bending the front wheel and frame. But was able to straighten the frame and replace the wheel, so it's been good to go since then. At some point, put on hot grips and an old windshield from the Moto Guzzi, so it's decent to ride down to near zero. The engine still seems solid and all I've ever done to it is change the oil, spark plug, and adjust the valves. One thing's for sure, just like the dogs, it's got a great motor!
Was hoping to post something positive this week, after all the bum stuff on the road, but then one of the hydraulic hoses blew out on the backhoe. Installed the hoe a lot later this year due to the extremely warm Oct, so when we finally got to finishing the dirt work, the ground had started to freeze hard. Was almost done filling the dog yard holes when I heard an odd sound from the hydraulics, then noticed something out of the corner of my eye and realized there was a stream of hydraulic fluid shooting off to one side of the tractor. A hydraulic line had sprung a leak, so shut her down real quick. Unplugged the backhoe hydraulics and then was able to drive the tractor back to the spot where the backhoe's parked. Got it unattached with limited loss of of fluid and then checked it out.
Looks like a kink in the hose where it blew out (arrow). Not sure how that happened, though that hose was originally installed a little too long, so maybe it just kinked over time.
The backhoe work's over for this year, so installed the hydraulic splitter to start splitting the wood that's already bucked up.
Stealth cat, in the background, wanders about while keeping an eye on things.
The NWS weather summary for October for Fairbanks... The average temperature for Fairbanks in October was 34.5° F, which was 10.3 ° above normal. The highest temperature was 68° on the 1st, while the lowest was 2° on the 31st. Precipitation totaled 0.52" for the month, which was 0.31" below normal. Snowfall totaled 0.7" at the airport, which is well below the average of 10.8" for the month.
This likely was the nicest October we've had since moving to Alaska 40 years ago. There were at least three weeks of well above normal temps with almost no rain or snow. Amazing. Got most of the summer projects finished, and while it did turn cold at month's end with about 3" of snow, the slimy road is frozen now so my neighbors can quit complaining about getting their shiny cars muddy!
Winter won't officially start until the solstice in Dec. But it'd be hard to believe that in the here and now, since it's been well below freezing the last few days.