While so many parts of the lower 48 are having a colder than ‘normal’ winter most of Alaska has been basking in temperatures that resemble fall more than winter!
In Bristol Bay much of the area remains less than fully frozen, causing many to be watchful. Other areas of the state share many of the same concerns.
The winter activities so many of us not only enjoy but count on cannot happen with these many days above freezing temperatures. Our rivers are not fully frozen over, the creeks are dangerously open in many places and lakes still have only a thin coat of ice.
Travel to accomplish things like setting and checking winter trap lines, a source of income for some and hunting for winter meat are hampered. For those who do ice fishing, it is very dangerous without a nice thick layer of ice.
Being able to visit with others, important to so many in the winter, has been slowed to include the only more expensive methods, such as using an airline. If this keeps up many winter festivals will have to be rearranged and different activities thought of.
Without a nice layer of snow to insulate things the frost level will go deeper into the soil, causing more winter loss on such things as native berries, trees and of course all those beautiful peonies our state is becoming well known for.
Wildlife surveys that are accomplished during the winter months have been put on hold too, waiting for a good snow covering so tracking is easier.
While these warmer temperatures are nice in that we are not using up our winter budget as quickly on heating fuel, it does make most wonder if that will be offset by some really long, cold snap later this winter. The lack of wind, that often comes with winter weather, or even strong sun is cutting into the renewable energy output for some communities.
For those of us who either farm or garden it has allowed for more fresh winter produce to survive than might normally be possible. (this news has traveled around the state with much excitement!) Many of us are also seeing our chickens continue to lay eggs at a higher level, due to less feed needed to just stay warm.
Long term forecasts call for this weather pattern to continue into late summer of 2015. We could well move into still another summer of almost ‘hot’ weather, more forest fires, lots of bugs and winters that leave us wondering if this is going to be more the norm than not.
So for those in the Lower 48 that are dealing with still another winter of tough temperatures and travel conditions, know many are wishing the weather pattern would send the snow and icy temperatures north again!