Thursday, March 23, 2017

Nugget of a trip...

Years ago Andy and I tried to get to a state parks cabin in the Chena Rec. Area. We never never made it in, a combination of encountering overflow on the river and then following the wrong trail. So getting to the cabin became. something of a priority. After checking out the the river crossing and confirming the route (Circuitous ramblings on pi day 3/15/17), finally made it to the cabin with my friend Bill.

Heading down the trail.

The dogs parked at the cabin.

The elusive Nugget Creek Cabin (photo courtesy of Alaska Div. of Parks, since I forgot to take one). It was kind of anti-climatic after waiting all these years to finally get there. It's just an old, kind of run down, trappers cabin that the state appropriated, made a few improvements, and then rents out to the unsuspecting as a public use cabin. The trail in is quite circuitous and could use some major realignment, but we made it in and out with no serious crashes and the dogs ran great, so like my old friend says,  it just don't get much better than that.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Circuitous Ramblings on Pi Day

Yesterday was pi day, no not apple, cherry or strawberry rhubarb, but the number pi, 3.1417. Surprised not more was made of it, since it matched our calendar date out to four places this year. But maybe the math nerds are too busy with computer games and/or hacking Facebook or whatever.
Andy and I went out to the park (Last Ride?...10/1/16) to check out some of the trails for a sled dog trip. We've had problems there in the past running into overflow and open water at the river crossings, so we decided to ski in to check it out before bringing the dogs. Back in the day, we did a lot of cross country skiing, winter camping and the like, but hadn't done that in years. When we got into running sled dogs, the skis just languished in the tool shed.

All geared up for the big adventure.

These older wooden skis require waxing. Unfortunately I guessed wrong on the wax, so had lots of grip but no glide. At least I never fell down, likely was stuck fast to the trail, so that's something

Monday, March 6, 2017

February Summary...

Here's the ever popular NWS summary for February:

February 2017 was warm and very snowy with 23.3 inches of snow falling at the Fairbanks airport. The 23.3 inches of snow that fell was 15.2 inches above the normal snowfall of 8.1 inches and ranked as the 6th snowiest February of 106 years of record. Season to date snowfall now totals 78.4 inches as of the 1st of March and is 22.1 inches above the normal season to date snowfall of 56.3 inches. Only 9 other winter seasons have had more snow through the end of February. Snow depth at the Fairbanks airport peaked at 34 inches on the 26th before settling to 32 inches. This is the greatest snow depth at Fairbanks since April of 1993.

The average temperature was 0.7 degrees which was 2.0 degrees above the normal average temperature of 1.3 degrees below and ranked as the 50th warmest of 109 years of record. The warmest temperature during the month of February was 35 degrees above on the 14th and the lowest temperature was 41 below which occurred on the 12th. 

Looking forward to March the temperature climbs sharply as the sun angle and length of day increases. The average daily maximum temperature increases from 18 degrees above on the 1st to 34 degrees on the 31st. The average daily minimum temperature increases from 9 below on the 1st to 8 above on the 31st.

March is on average the driest month in Fairbanks. Normal precipitation is 0.25 inches while normal snowfall is 4.9 inches. In some years the snow pack begins to melt out by late March.

Possible sunshine increases by nearly 7 minutes per day during March,  from 10 hours and 11 minutes on the 1st to 13 hours and 33 minutes on the 31st.

Here's the temperature chart for the winter so far:

What's interesting, to me at least, is the almost cyclical temperature variability this winter. It seems like every ten days to two weeks there's a major shift from warm to cold and then back again. And every warm spell from Decembers on, we got a pretty decent dump of snow. Not a big weather guru, but it seems we haven't had a weather pattern like this since 1990-91 when we set the all time record for snowfall at over 148 in (that's almost four meters to the French).

Another sun dog screen shot from the UAF/GI climate site. If it looks cold, it's cause it is. Been down to thirty below most nights this past week. Where's spring when ya need it!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Snow and more snow...

While February normally has the second lowest snowfall (next to March), this year is different. We've had, according to the NWS, 17 inches of snow this week,  almost two feet for the month, and 72 inches this winter so far  (that's almost two meters to the French). To those not from Alaska, this might not seem like much, but it is when you're running out of places to push it.

The piles next to the driveway are getting too high for the loader. Must be time for a bigger tractor!

Another job well done, at least until the next dump of snow.
Photos courtesy of Andy, who thought the blog needed some tractor porn!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sunny Daze

The one thing I've noticed about these digital cameras is that they seem to need a lot more light to get a decent photo, compared to the older film type cameras. I guess this is maybe a throwback to those who don't know what a kodak camera is, but anyway, the sun was out on the last dog run, I remembered the camera, and the sky and snow don't look gray. So no matter where yah go there yah are...
Heading through the clearing on a new trail. State forestry bulldozed this area to create a fire break about ten years ago. 
Missy takes a turn up front with Jabba . Obi looked like he needed a break, so she got some training in lead. Down to a five dog team now that Barney, Polar, and Spuds are all retired.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sign of the Beast...

Woke up the other day and saw this on the indoor/outdoor thermometer:
I figured it must be a sign of the end of times. Then I remembered  that the T-Rumpster was president and that confirmed it. But when the world didn't end that morning, figured the best thing to do was go run some dogs.
Heading out on a new section trail; rerouted due to some major overflow  (aufeis) on the main trail.
Taking a break on the way home. Obi and Jabba have really blossomed as leaders now that Barney's retired. They act like a couple of clowns around the dog yard, but go figure, they're both doing great leading the team.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

January Summary...

National Weather Service summary for January for Fairbanks, AK

A very cold airmass moved over the interior during the second week of the month and as skies cleared, temperatures plummeted. Fairbanks experienced its first 40 below since 2015. The temperature continued to drop and the next day the temperature dropped to 51 below at the Fairbanks Airport. This was the first 50 below or colder day since 2012.  There have been three days so far this year when the temperature has reached 40 below or colder. The average temperature was 9.5 below which ranked as the 54th coldest of 109 years of record.

Seventeen inches of snow fell during January at the Fairbanks Airport which was 6.7 inches above the normal January snowfall. This ranked as the 20th snowiest in 107 years of record. Season to date snowfall is now 55.1 inches which is 6.9 inches more than normal.

Looking forward to February, the average maximum temperature increases from 3 degrees above on the 1st to 17 degrees above on the 28th. The average minimum temperature increases from 16 degrees below on the 1st to 10 degrees below on the 28th. The average snowfall in February is 8.1 inches. Available sunshine increases from 7 hours and zero minutes on the 1st to 10 hours and 4 minutes on the 28th.

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

The main thing that struck me about this winter so far, besides how freakin' cold the forty below spell was, is how often it's snowed. Since late November, it seems like I'm out on the tractor an awful lot, at least compared to the last couple of winters. So one thing I really appreciate this year is having the rear blade hooked to hydraulics.  When we first got the tractor, it had a manual rear blade. To change to angle. you had to remove the clevis pin, push the blade to desired angle, and re-insert the pin. But you couldn't see it very well, since the pin and keeper were underneath the center support, so you had to either crawl underneath it to see it, or take off your gloves and do it by feel. I usually did the latter, my hands near freezing by the time it was done. So when my neighbor Bert offered to help convert it to hydraulics (Hydro Rear 1/23/13), well that was a pretty good deal.

So now every time I'm out plowing and have to change the angle on the rear blade, I appreciate the fine job he did,  making the work a little easier and keeping my hands a whole lot warmer.

Monday, January 30, 2017


After what seemed like a month of clear, cold weather, the chinook rolled through, brought in some clouds, and warmed things up above zero. But what was unusual for a chinook, which usually brings warm, dry weather, it dumped 2-3 inches of snow. So I wound up firing up the tractor to plow the road and driveway, then hop on the ski doo to groom the dog trail. As luck would have it, the clouds started to clear off just when leaving and the temps quickly dropped to nearly twenty below (about minus thirty to the French). But I did remember to grab the camera, so I got a few shots while freezing my butt off down in the valley.
The alpenglow really lit up the clouds...

And had a fine sunset on the way home.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


NWS forecast...
"Southerly flow aloft will push a series of weather systems north over Northern Alaska through the weekend. This will bring temperatures to well  above normal through Thu along with Chinook wind conditions in the SE Interior of Alaska. This will also bring above normal temperatures and periods of light snow to the remainder of northern Alaska through the weekend." Temperatures are expected to rise today to the single digits above zero in the valley and teens to low twenties in the hills.

According to the NWS, a chinook occurs when strong south winds over the Alaska Range block moisture to areas north of the mountains while warming up the air as it descends on the leeward side of the range due to adiabatic heating. While it may not seem like temps. in the single digits are warm, just a few days ago it was forty below and it hadn't been above zero for about a week.

Taking the doggies out for a run is a lot more pleasant now that it's above zero.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

More Cold...

The forecast for extreme cold last week (Sun Dog...1/11/17) didn't happen. Instead we got another half a foot of snow. But then came yesterdays forecast...

National Weather Service... Arctic cold to settle into the interior...

"Temperatures will fall to around 40 below for much of the interior over the next 24 hours. Some areas outside Fairbanks may see 55 below before the end of the week.

As the snow ends and skies clear a pool of cold air over the high Canadian Arctic will move southwest into the eastern interior Tuesday and settle in across the interior for the remainder of
the week. Low temperatures in the valleys will fall to 40 to 50 below with the coldest temperatures expected in the upper Yukon Flats may fall to around 55 below. Valley locations will not see much change as highs will be in the 30s to around 40 below."

And this time they were right...

National Weather Service....Extreme Cold Over Interior Alaska...

"Temperatures in the 40s and 50s below have been recorded this morning across Interior Alaska. Areas of dense ice fog have formed in valley locations as well. Hillsides are in the 30s below with hill tops in the 20s below.

These cold temperatures will continue through Thursday night in most areas from Fairbanks west. Clouds will spread to the area east of Fairbanks tonight and Thursday causing a slight moderation of temperatures east of Fairbanks."

Some low temperatures in the Interior this morning...

Fairbanks Airport...........51 below.
Fort Wainwright.............49 below.
Eielson AFB...................53 below.
Little Chena R at 12mi...52 below.
Chena R at 39mi.............53 below.

So we really can't complain about the temp's at our place.

But at least it makes for clear sunny weather...
And it's a great time to split fire wood. The logs almost explode when you whack'em with an axe at 40 below.

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

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.