19 January 2017

I Can't Even

Delta Junction, Alaska, this morning.

-27 // "What Should We Do About Guns?"

It was -19 at the house this morning, and -27 along the river. It warmed all the way up to -19 at the office in Anchorage. Globular warmering at its finest, eh?

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And here's something you won't see everyday: a university professor telling the truth about gun control.

18 January 2017

"As temperatures dip, lessons from Jack London's 'To Build a Fire' "

A local reporter has been traveling around Alaska for some time, and shares some important lessons learned. It's worth a read, especially as Arctic air blankets the state.
It was a trip of a lifetime, but my thoughts, upon reflection, were much like those of the man in Jack London's short story, "To Build a Fire." I was ready for a week of adventure but not the surprise fear I felt in those final few hours along the river when overcome by hypothermia ...
The difference between minus-10 cold and minus-75 cold was best described to me when I first moved to a remote village south of McGrath. "Cold is cold," one of the townspeople told me. "The difference between minus 10 and minus 50 or minus 75 is the speed at which you lose your ability to do simple tasks." 
The time you have to build a fire determines whether or not to gather ample wood to keep the fire going once it's started or build a proper base to allow for melting snow to drain away. If you are wet or alone in minus-50-degree weather, your fingers may stop working before you can strike a match. 
The lessons in "To Build a Fire" come (and are ignored) in order of importance. First, the wolf dog knows that real cold is no time for traveling. Second, an old man had told him that, after 50 below, he should travel with a companion. Third, at 75 below, the man knows he cannot fail in his first attempt to build a fire.

It's Almost Cold

My readers to the north, in the Interior, will be scoffing. "You know nothing of cold, Rev," as they watch their thermometers dip south of -40°.

Probably so, but one gets used to what one experiences. It was -14 at our home on the hillside, and -18 along the river. It's only -9 in Anchorage, here at work, but much colder to the north. AccuHunch reports -25 in Wasilla, for example, and a balmy -53 in Tanana (central Alaska, along the way to Fairbanks).

By the way, for folks Outside, Tanana doesn't rhyme with "banana." It's TAN'-a-naw. So now you know.

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A friend on the Book o' Faces suggested I should have stayed home by the fireplace. If I thought my employer would pay me to work from home, I'd be there so fast I'd leave smoking tire tracks in the snow. But my boss has this outlandish expectation that I'll actually be in my office during working hours. Entirely unreasonable, ain't it? :)

Ah, well.

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If memory serves, the coldest temp up here was -83 at Trapper Creek, a few years ago. There was another spot in east central AK that installed a digital thermometer, but it stopped working at -83, so they don't know if it got any colder than that.

According to the State Troopers, the greatest problem at -65 is tires breaking. Apparently the rubber seams in tires come apart when the temp goes south of -55, so tires blow out if you move your car. That's what I've been told, anyway. I'm sure that someone from the Interior will correct me if I'm wrong.

Troopers have a specially-compounded tire for that, so they've been known to pick up motorists who lose air pressure all at once. I've seen video of buses running in Fairbanks at those temps, so they must use the special* tires, too.

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So here's the official version:

Fairbanks and Anchorage woke up Wednesday to an early taste of an expected cold snap this week, as temperatures plunged to 50 degrees below zero in some areas of the Interior.
The National Weather Service office in Fairbanks issued special weather statements Wednesday morning for the eastern Interior and western Interior warning of similar temperatures in valleys across the region and rising to only about 20 below on hilltops or in coastal areas.
Morning lows for the western Interior included 47 below in Fairbanks, 49 below at Fort Wainwright, 51 below at Eielson Air Force Base and Nenana, and 54 below in Tanana. In the east, lows ranged from 44 below in Ambler and Shungnak to 45 below in Galena, 47 below in Kaltag and 51 below in McGrath, Huslia and Nikolai.
In Southcentral Alaska, NWS meteorologist Bob Clay said the coldest Southcentral communities Wednesday included Talkeetna at 29 below, Wasilla at 27 below and Palmer at 20 below. Temperatures in the Anchorage Bowl were as low as the minus teens; Eagle River was at about 16 below.
Jim Brader, a Fairbanks-based NWS meteorologist, said temperatures fell quickly as the cold snap arrived Tuesday, hitting 30 below there by afternoon and 40 below by evening. He said relatively warmer weather should prevail beginning Friday due to cloud cover being brought into the area by two storms.
* For "special", substitute "very expensive".