Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sun Dog...

Saw this on the Gee Wiz website just before noon today:
(Courtesy of
The sun dog is formed similar to a rainbow, except it's snow or ice crystals, not water droplets, that refract the light.
Thought this'd be a great day to get some pictures on a dog run and thanks to Andy, had the camera with me. But as luck would have it, the clouds rolled in and it was overcast by the time I got out with the dogs.
Supposed to get some more snow this weekend, then be real cold, maybe -40 or lower (that's -40 to the French, too). Looks like we might have a serious Alaskan winter this year.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

NWS December Weather Summary...

The cold start to December began in late November with temperatures not rising above zero from the 28th of November and continuing until the 15th of December. The coldest temperature recorded at Fairbanks in December was 36 below on the 4th. The warmest temperature occurred on the last day of month when the temperature reached 35 degrees above zero.

There was 32.9 inches of snow that fell in December which ranked as the 4th snowiest December of 102 years of Record. A very powerful storm beginning on the 29th and continued through the 31st. Officially, 10.4 inches of snow fell on the 29th, while the storm total snowfall in the Fairbanks area ranged from 10 to 15 inches. The snow was still falling when strong winds moved into the area creating significant blowing snow and drifts over open areas on the evening of the 30th and morning of the 31st. West winds increased to 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 50 mph. The peak wind gust at the Fairbanks Airport was 52 mph. The storm caused scattered power outages, knocked down trees and signs as well as made travel very difficult. Highway summits north of Fairbanks were closed due to severe drifting.

Looking forward to January, the average maximum temperature drops from 2 above on the 1st to zero by the 12th and then climbs back to 3 above by the 31st. The average minimum temperature drops from 16 below on the 1st to 18 below on the 14th and then climbs back to 16 below again by the 31st. The average temperature continues to drop from 7 below on the 1st and bottoms out at 8.7 below on the 16th and then climbs back to 6 below on the 31st for a average of 8 below for the month. Temperatures in January have ranged from 52 above in 2009 to 66 below in 1934.

The average snowfall in January is 10.3 inches. However in January of 1993, 40.2 inches of snow fell during the month. Possible sunshine increases in January from 4 hours and 3 minutes on the 1st to 6 hours and 54 minutes by the 31st.

The outlook for Fairbanks for January from the Climate Prediction Center calls for near normal temperatures and near normal precipitation.


The big December storm made for a slow dog run, but now there's a lot smoother trail with nearly a foot of fresh snow.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Storm Warning...

After lamenting the lack of snow, we get this:

NWS Storm Warning:  A potentially dangerous winter storm for Interior Alaska...

Snow is now expected to begin in the Western portion of Interior Alaska and quickly spread eastward beginning Thursday and push to about Fort Yukon by late Thursday evening.

This storm has the likelihood of producing upwards of 8 to 12 inches of snowfall over the Interior. Another aspect of this potentially dangerous storm will be high winds over elevated terrain. This will have the potential of causing blizzard conditions on summits that are prone to these conditions.

The initial weather front has spread heavy snow from the Yukon River Delta  into the western Interior. Southeast winds gusting from 40 to 60 mph have resulted in near zero visibility in blowing snow in many coastal locations. Heavy snow and increasing winds will continue to push east across the state today and impact the entire forecast area with winter weather by tonight. Warmer air aloft has caused snow to mix with freezing rain or turn to rain in the lower Yukon delta and over Saint Lawrence Island. A brief period of freezing rain may spread as far north as the Seward Peninsula today but precipitation is will remain all snow to the north and east. Winds will rapidly shift to the southwest behind the weather front and strong southwest winds will persist over most of the forecast area into the weekend.

But I did manage to get the dogs out, on a sled finally, before jumping on the tractor to plow snow. We've gotten about four inches so far and it's still coming down. Looks like for once the weather bureau maybe right.
12/30/16...Wound up with nine inches over night on top of the three we got earlier in the week. Supposed to get another two to four inches tomorrow, so that should keep me busy on the tractor.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Winter Solstice...

Some thoughts about the solstice:
While the winter solstice is often thought of as the first day of winter, in Alaska, this day symbolizes the return of the sun, as the daylight increases following the solstice. While the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, in fact several days around solstice are effectively the same.length at about 3 hours and 43 minutes in Fairbanks.  (
Meteorological winter is a trm used to define the three month period that runs from Dec 1st to the end of February. It is the coldest three month period of the year in the northern hemisphere. Astronomical winter is what most people use to talk about the start of winter. The solstice is called the beginning of winter. based on the fact that the sun reaches the most southern point on the globe. The sun is at its lowest point in the northern sky at noon and, of course, it is the shortest day of the year. (

For me, the solstice means that the longer and warmer days of winter are on the way. The best time for running dogs comes in February and March, when the longer days provide enough daylight and give you the energy needed for the most enjoyable dog runs of the year.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

New Ride...

Well new for me anyway. It's a '96 Ford F-150. I'd been driving the '84 Ford F-250 for almost twenty years now and while it still ran fine, the heavy duty suspension made for a hard ride and the big V-8 was a gas hog. Since I'd sold the trailer a few years ago, there was no longer a need for a heavy duty hauler. The new ride's a straight 6, 5 speed manual, the last year they used that motor, so it should be better on gas.

Was originally looking for a similar set up in a Dodge Dakota, but they went to an aluminum head for their motors a while back, which don't do well in the extreme cold. It was really hard to find an older iron head one in Fairbanks that wasn't a total beater. Besides, would have had to build new boxes for hauling dogs, since it has a smaller bed. So the Ford means a lot less work. It was apparently well maintained by the second owner, who had it for 18 years. As my neighbor Bert said, it's way too nice a truck for me.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

High Noon...

Saw this cam shot at high noon on the UAF/GI web site:

Alaska Climate Research Center Web Cam

Current Weather Station Data (As of: 12/10/16 12:16:10)
Temperature  Humidity  Barometer          Wind
               -10.3  F           85  %       30.628  in     SSW at 0.0  mph  

Reminded me that we're almost at the winter solstice and soon the days will be getting longer. Probably no warmer though, it's usually March before anything resembling warm weather is common. But hey, it's Alaska, nobody said it'd be easy! 

Saturday, December 3, 2016


You know what they say about being careful what you you wish for. After almost no snow in October and November, most everyone around here was hoping for snow. So we finally got it, about half a foot fell yesterday and now the temps are dropping as the skies clear. Looks like it'll soon be too cold to enjoy the fresh snow.
The duplicate stone henge is starting to disappear.

Here's the November National Weather Service summary:

November 2016 started off warm and finished off cold. Much like October, it was very dry and had above normal temperatures for the month. All but 1 day of the first 17 days of November had above normal temperatures. The Highest temperature was 32 degrees which occurred on the 1st. The coldest temperature was 31 below which occurred on the 29th. The average temperature was 3.7 degrees above which was 1.1 degrees above the normal average of 2.6 degrees above.

Only 0.29 inches of precipitation fell at the airport which was 0.38 inches below the normal November precipitation of 0.67 inches which ranked as the 29th driest of 102 years of record. 4.4 inches of snow fell at the airport which was 8.8 inches below the normal snowfall of 13.2 inches and ranked as the 81st snowiest of 101 years of record. Season to date snowfall as of the 30th of November was only 5.2 inches which is 20.6 inches behind the normal season to date total of 25.8 inches.

Looking forward to December, the average high temperature drops from 7 above on the 1st to 2 above on the 31st. The average low temperature drops from 11 below on the 1st to 16 below on the 31st. In the last 112 years temperatures have varied by 120 degrees in Fairbanks, from a high temperature of 58 above in 1934 to 62 below in 1961. Average snowfall is 12 inches but has been as much as 50.7 inches in 1984 to as little as a trace in 1969.

December is the darkest month of the year, with possible sunshine decreasing from 4 hours and 38 minutes on the 1st, to 3 hours and 42 minutes on the 20th and 21st. By the 31st, possible sunshine increases to 4 hours.

About time to sweep off the loft steps before they disappear.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


When we got up this morning, we're more than a little surprised it was about -20 F at the house and below -30 in the flats. So after many weeks of above normal temps, the bottom's dropped out.

Temperature chart from the Little Chena River Bridge at Chena Hot Springs Road (courtesy of USGS/WRD)

The NWS have been talking for quite some time about an ENSO reversal, which normally brings cooler, drier weather to interior Alaska. But their long term forecasts have shown warmer and drier than normal. Well they were half right, it has been drier. The average snowfall should be almost two feet by now and we've had maybe half a foot.

At least the dogs got run yesterday before it got too cold; it was a balmy -5° F. Hopefully it'll warm up and snow some more, at least that's the NWS forecast.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hangin' With The Girls...

A while back we picked up two younger female dogs after a local dog musher passed on (New Dog...2/11/15). They were described as "seriously shy" by the woman who gave them to us. Well now they're grown up, well adapted to the team, but still kind of shy. So Andy got the idea of bringing them into the house to socialize them. At first they were pretty freaked out by it, but after a few trips inside, lots of dog biscuits, and a couch to sit on, they're quite at home in the basement.

The girls like nothing better than hanging out on the old couch.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Clear and Cold...

In spite of all the hoping for more snow, the drought will continue for the foreseeable future. There's barely a couple of inches on the ground and the temperatures been getting down to near -5 (that's about -20 C to the French) at night.
The only good part of these clear, cold nights is the frost that forms on the trees and shrubs creates interesting effects in the sunshine.

The sun barely clears the hills at mid-day now.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Runnin' the doggies...

Back in the day, I'd usually get the dogs out by the middle of September. But as age and arthritis have intruded, it seems like it starts a little later every year. After the last snowfall, there's about two inches on the ground now, figured it was time to get the old ATV going. It's a 1985 250 Suzuki, is really hard to start after it's been sitting awhile, and it hadn't run in over a year. Finally did get it going and have now gotten them out a few times. On the first run, there was a fairly large tree down a mile or so out. Couldn't get the machine past it, so had to turn the dogs around and head home. Went back with a chainsaw and cut it out of the way, so the next few runs went much better. Hoping for more snow soon, so we can start using the sled. Running the ATV in the cold is no fun.

Back in the yard after a hard run makes for a bunch of hot dogs!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dry October...


October was warm, windy and the driest in over a century. Strong winds on the 16th and 17th. reached 36 mph at the airport while gusts to 45 mph where reported in the hills.

The first measurable snow fell on the 20th which was nearly three weeks later than the normal. Only 0.8 inches of snow fell at the airport for the month  which was 10.0 inches below the normal. 

The 0.02 inches of water equivalent was the 2nd driest of 106 years of record.

The warmest temperature measured at the airport in October was 59 degrees which occurred on the 1st. The coldest temperature was 2 below which occurred on the 24th. The average high temperature was 37.6 degrees which was 5.7 degrees above the average high temperature of 31.9 degrees which ranked as the 26th warmest of 112 years of record. The average low temperature was 15.9 degrees which was 0.6 degrees below the average low temperature of 16.5 degrees and ranked as the 42nd coldest of 112 year of record. The mean temperature was 26.7 degrees which was 2.5 degrees above the normal mean temperature of 24.2 degrees which ranked as the 48th warmest of 112 years of record.

Looking forward to November the average high temperature decreases from 18 degrees on the 1st to 7 above on the 30th. The average low temperature decreases from 3 above on the 1st to 11 below on the 30th. The average daily temperature decreases from 11 degrees on the 1st to 2 below on the 30th. Over the last 112 years the temperatures have ranged from 54 degrees above on the 25th in 1936 to 54 below on the 29th in 1909. November averages 0.67 inches of precipitation with all of that normally falling as snow. 

On average 13.2 inches of snow falls in the month of November. 

Possible sunlight continues to decrease at about 6 minutes per day  falling from 7 hours and 46 minutes on the 1st to 4 hours and 44 minutes on the 30th.

The outlook for the month of November from the climate prediction center calls for increased chances for above normal temperatures and increased chances for below normal

Ruty don't mind no stinkin' cold weather, he just lays in front of the wood stove whenever there's a good hot fire going.