Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bright Sunny Day

The day dawned bright and clear so we got to see the sun for several hours. Since returning on the 18th of the month it is now up for 4.5 hours.
While doing wood chores a raven flew by, and then circled back to see if I was doing anything that might lead to a sorch of food. In the cold frosty air (-34F) the bird was covered with frost on the face and some of the breast feathers. This is the first bird of the year for me!


Thursday, January 22, 2009


Another bright sunny day with lots of superior mirages in all directions. At times some of the mirages had 5 layers and you could see some bending as the inversion layers moved the lights around.
The sun still remains low, less than 2 degrees above the horizon. The low sun cast a great pink-orange glow on some of the small drifts that have been sculptured during the last two wind storms.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bright Sun

First Sun Of 2009

For the first time since late November 2008 we were able to see the sun. It was up for 2 hours and 20 minutes, basically just rolling along the horizon, since it at peak it was less than 1 degree above the horizon. With the cold clear air it rose and sat with lots of mirage effect and had a green rim and as it was setting I even saw green segment. I took several pictures of the rising and setting of the sun with the green segment filmed as it was setting.
Weather was -28F with light south winds and clear skies. Inversion layers were causing lots of mirages as the day progressed.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Waiting for the sun

Well it is getting close, only three more days and the sun will return to our part of the Arctic!

15 January 2009 ........ Rain!

The warm front arrived mid-morning as the temperature shot up 20 degrees in 30 minutes and we had freezing rain for about an hour before the front moved on past. After passage the wind switched 180 degrees from the NE to the SW, and the temperature slowly dropped and by 3PM was back down to +10F.

Luckily we didn’t get to much rain as it is hard on some of the animals that have to dig through the snow to reach their food, as the caribou do. The Arctic is meant to stay cold and the creatures that live here have adapted to the cold dry conditions and ice covered snow can be life threatening . If the caribou have to did through a hard crusted snow it takes much more energy and more damage to their hoofs. With many more weeks of cold winter a head it can put some of the younger animals into a energy deficiency cycle that they can’t recover from.

* a note taken from our NWS this morning.
Discussion...the last 2 days' weather are an excellent example of what happens as a big Alaska cold snap ends. They do not exit subtly, but with strength and flourish. In contrast, warm spells normally fade without ado.

In this case, a number of southern Alaska interior sites have had 80 degree rises in temperature from 3 days ago to now. The Chinook now flowing over/down the Alaska Range into the interior will be reinforced by a series of fast moving (about 50 knots) waves on the strong front now running from Kodiak Island to about 35 degrees
north 152 degrees west. This is normal for such high energy systems, especially those inbound to Alaska from
30-something degrees north.

East winds and IFR weather now over the Arctic coast are forecast to abruptly change later today as the winds shift to west southwest and the IFR weather improved to MVFR in the west to VFR in the east.
The volume and strength of the incoming warm air aloft into the interior has brought plenty of freezing rain and snow to the west and northern interior, as well as to the south ends and high points of Alaska Range passes. More of this is for Friday and Friday night.

Low #3 is somewhere near 35 degrees north and 153 degrees west. After moving over Kotzebue Friday night this low is forecast to weaken and move rapidly into the northeast Beaufort Sea on Saturday. From all present appearances, this low will bring in a classic pineapple express to much of Mainland Alaska on Friday and
Friday night.
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Arctic Smoke Signals by James W. Helmericks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.