Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Winter isn't coming in Alaska

[NY Post] Winter is off to a late start in parts of the nation’s largest — and usually coldest — state.
Months of higher-than-normal temperatures in parts of rural Alaska have opened dangerous gaps in frozen rivers that residents use to travel from village to village and to hunting grounds, since there are no roads.
One troublesome ice highway is the half-mile-wide Kuskokwim River, where a man died New Year’s Eve after he and five family members — traveling on a snowmobile and sled — fell into a gaping hole. The others survived.
Search-and-rescue teams in the southwest Alaska commercial hub of Bethel have been marking holes on the Kuskokwim, but there were so many, they ran out of the $300-a-roll reflective tape. While they wait for more supplies to be shipped, residents in villages along the river and its tributaries have been marking the openings with tree branches.
It’s a role switch of sorts with much of the lower 48, where dangerously cold temperatures have been blamed for dozens of deaths.
The unseasonable warmth in parts of Alaska is a factor in making last month the warmest December on record for the entire state, experts say. The statewide average temperature for the month was 19.4 degrees, far higher than the historical average of 3.7 degrees, according to Rick Thoman, climatologist for the National Weather Service’s Alaska region. Read More