Monday, December 31, 2012

Rainy New Year Eve in Glacier City

Happy New Year’s eve to all! The snow continues to melt and you can see a little rain and fog in the photo. The temperature held again around 40° all day in Girdwood. The resort delayed opening after some avalanche control work and a lot of gravel spreading. Unfortunately the ice is so treacherous one of our good friends slipped and broke an ankle. Wear your ice cleats or walk in the remaining snow! So sad...

There was a little break in the rain this afternoon, however the rain returned to Glacier Valley this evening. The snow has melted so much we can see the earth in several locations. Its so disappointing! Looking forward to the fireworks this evening, expecting it to brighten the sky. There is a wind warning tonight, lets hope the fireworks go on as planned. 

With the warm air melting the snow, us gardeners are worried about the ground being exposed and cold air returning. If it does not snow before the cold returns, there could be damage to tree roots. Even Glacier Creek has water flowing over the snow, strange looking, will work on that tomorrow.  Be sure to check Alaska 511 if you are planning on driving around the Arm tomorrow. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

High wind advisory in Glacier Valley

Oh that nature can be so mischievous, bringing spring to Glacier Valley in December! Anywhere else in the country this would be seen as a spring storm. Here, its the Pineapple Express, the dreaded southerly flow that has come to visit Alaska in the winter bringing tropical air in a fury. 

The temperatures are around 40° in Girdwood. The wind is howling 50-65 miles per hour causing the trees to roil around their bases. The creeks are flowing again and Moose Meadows is mushy. As a result, the Resort did not open for skiing today, high winds to not mix with riding chair lifts. The good news is it is snowing at the top of the mountain.

Good thing its Sunday, stay inside and stay dry!

Icy roads and driveways in the Glacier Valley

Don’t be fooled by this image which includes blue sky. It lasted a mere ten minutes. I so hoped the parting clouds would allow the warm air to escape to the upper atmosphere and cool us down, but alas, the clouds closed back in. It was 38° for most of the day in Girdwood making for rain and puddles everywhere. The DOT has been hard at work with the graders trying to get the ice off Alyeska Highway. However, everyone’s driveways are ice rinks. It is very slippery entering business parking lots. 

Tonight, Saturday, there are high wind advisories and more rain in the forecast. The wind is expected to be strong through Sunday, take care driving large vehicles on the Seward Highway. The temperature is expected to stay warm through the new year so we are not anticipating snow at the base of the mountain anytime in the near future.

One thing is for sure for New Year’s celebrants, there will not be a fire danger in Glacier Valley! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Warm temperatures create icy roads and melt snow

Yesterday the snow was still on the trees through the morning even though the temperature was warming to 33°. By 3 pm, the temperature was up to 34 and it was raining. The ground surfaces, roads, driveways, sidewalks, were all ice. Nothing but ice. It was very difficult to drive or walk without cleats. 

December 27 look at the difference:

December 26

By 6 pm, the temperature was 36° and I heard skiing was very wet.

Today, Thursday, we woke to the day at 36° and all the snow is off the trees. All the icicles have melted off eaves, and most roofs have shed their snow load. Currently there is a mix of rain and snow, the snow being very wet. The local road crew has switched to the road grader to break up the ice on Alyeska Highway. Yesterday and this morning numerous rounds of ordinance fire where heard from the Resort in attempts to set off avalanches before opening. Yesterday I was informed by an aid room attendant that numerous avalanches kept sliding all over the Alyeska ski area, both natural and man-made. Again, a warning to check the back country conditions before heading out into uncontrolled conditions. Some folks who attempted to snow machine in Turnagain Pass on Wednesday told me it was very messy, sloshy and hard to maneuver in. Check the CNFAIC for advisories. There are avalanche advisories with professional Forest Service employee observations and evaluations. 

If you are driving the Seward Highway, check Alaska 511 for status. Check the box to show the web cams and then click on the camera icons. This will bring up a current weather condition box, very handy.

If you are in Anchorage or are traveling to town from remote areas of the municipality, take your christmas tree in for recycling. See this Anchorage Daily News article for information.

Be safe and enjoy the day off!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Heavy, white, blizzard Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! Were ever you are, I hope this little glimpse of relentless snow makes you feel the spirit of the season. It has been snowing heavily since yesterday. At one point last night, about 10p, the temperature had warmed up to 36° at the turn off to Girdwood on the Seward. As a result, the snow was very slushy and wet. It was so wet it was very heavy to shovel off the driveway. At that time the temperature was 36° at the T.

Today, however, the temperature is cooler, down to 33°, we’d like to to drop a few more just to be sure the snow doesn’t melt for the skiers! It has been windier here in Glacier Valley for Christmas day. The Resort had to delay opening due to avalanche mitigation and did not run the new Ted’s Express due to high winds. Below is a view toward the ski mountain, you can just barely see the lights on the mountain the snow is so thick. With the lower temperature, I can see the snow is not as wet as yesterday. The flakes are not falling as hard indicating they are not as heavy. We like that best! 

All of you adventurous skiers, please be aware there is an avalanche warning issued by NOAA and the CNFAIC. See the Special Weather Statement link. I know all this fresh stuff is tempting, but remember, its wet and it has fallen on several layers of frost which make for weak layers. The snow needs to build up heavy enough to smash those frost crystals. Or, let the avalanches occur naturally before you venture out! 

I hope every one is home safe to celebrate the day, warm and cozy, sharing quiet time with friends or family. For those of us not home, lets think warm thoughts and hope everyone sent overseas at their government’s request returns home soon. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

We don't have to dream, its a white Christmas

Snow is falling in Girdwood, since late last night. But not a whole lot yet, check Alyeska Resort's snow report for latest measurements. As of 8 am it was only 4 inches new stuff at the top. The wind is blowing too, so be prepared for a windy drive. The good news is the temperature is up, I am recording 30° at the T and the big branches of spruce are swaying in the wind.

Don't forget to check Alaska 511 for driving conditions and CNFAIC for the radar. I look forward to some nice new snow photos.

Santa will definitely need Rudolph tonight! Girdwood, Prince William Sound, and the Kenai are in the midst of a heavy snow storm. Girdwood is experiencing moderate winds. Not high enough to close the Tram at Alyeska Resort, but they are on watch. 

I knew it was snowing by early early morning. How do you know without being outside? When there is no road noise. This is due as we know to the snow absorbing the pressure of the tires and insulating them from the road. Its so quiet when it snows....until...the wind. When thumps are heard on the roof, and not on Christmas Eve, that indicates the wind is blowing snow off the tree branches. Without the wind, the snow is so quiet. 

Along with the heavy snow, the clouds and frontal pattern have raised the temperature. It is up to 30° today, it has risen nearly the whole 30 in 24 hours. The snow is rather wet and sticky. Snowmen and snowballs can be made today, a rarity for us. Usually the snow is powdery dry in Glacier Valley. 

Santas skied for free at Alyeska Resort today. There were quite a few, even a couple of elves and a few Mrs. Clauses. Here is a group preparing to ski.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A blizzard in the forecast

With NOAA issuing a blizzard warning, snow is sure to arrive soon. The blizzard warning is for tonight through Monday night with snow in the forecast for most of the week. Thank goodness it will break the cold spell, for now.

The temperature is 3° in Girdwood this morning. Expect blue skies for the early part of the day.

Tomorrow is Christmas eve, anyone dressed like Santa will ski free at Alyeska Resort, check their site for more details.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Deep freeze lingers as snow forecast falls

It is -6° in Girdwood at 8 am, I expect it to drop as it gets closer to sunrise. Yes, it will be a cold day on the mountain for those in their winter break fun time. The weather forecasters have lowered their expectations for snow. We were hoping for a flurrious weekend but that seems to have changed. Be sure to check the forecast for your drive conditions.

If it does not snow, remember the Seward highway is still a slick road. Even with no snow these past few weeks, there have been several vehicle collisions with passengers going to the hospital.

A few clouds floated in this afternoon warming us up to +9° thank goodness. Lets hope the clouds stay all night.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Solstice of sun and celebration

Today was a busy and cold day in Girdwood. I did not register any temperature all day above 0. Morning started at -4°. The Grind Coffee Roaster and Shop held an open house with warm brews and international flair. There were transplants from all over the world meeting up in there.

The big highlight was the opening of the Girdwood Nordic Ski trail by the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club. It was -6° at 2pm. But a hearty warm fire was kept going along with hot tea and cocoa with moose cookies made by the Bake Shop. Deb Essex mastered ceremonies and founding members cut the ribbon to officially open the lovely trails that wind through the gorgeous northern most point of the western coastal rain forest. It was a stunning day for the opening. This was truly a special and momentous community event.

The Girdwood Nordic Ski Club now has two snow machines with which to groom the trails. Moose Meadows was perfectly groomed for a ski home. Here is a lovely entrance to the Meadows off the Girdwood walking trail.

The evening was full of Solstice celebrations where everyone shared in friendship and appreciation of the earth. Then, on going home, we braved the -9° biting air. Let's hope the snow forecasts are accurate!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

No wind in Glacier Valley, just beautiful blue skies

-2° at 9am this morning, yet for the clear cold air, the frost is not growing. The frost is there, coating all surfaces again as it did in November. By 3pm the temperature had “jumped” to +1° wow. Above is another clear view of Penguin from the Tesoro in Girdwood. 

Yesterday I drove into Anchorage and there was a stiff wind along the Turnagain for most of the day. The wind was odd, though, in that it was not all throughout the air column. On the south side of the Turnagain, the snow was being blown off the tops of the mountains, the snow wafting off the tops in light drifts. Be warned those of you back country skiing, there will be wind drifts on your ridges in the Turnagain Pass area of the Kenai Mountains for sure. Check the CNFAIC site for some great recent photos and videos under the Observations tab. 

Back to the wind, while we could feel it on the car, the snow was not moving from the tops of the mountains on the Chugach Forest side (above the Seward Highway). On our way back to Gridwood at 8pm, the wind at the surface had really picked up and debris was blowing all over the road. The sky was clear as predicted and the bright moon lit up patches of water between the ice chunks in the Arm. It was very pretty. I was glad to find when we returned to Girdwood that Glacier Valley was spared the wind. This keeps our environment beautiful because the snow remains on the trees. The poor trees however, appear so tired to me. They look as though they are slouching their shoulders with their heads hanging low. Oh, so much cold with so little snow to protect us, its so cold, lets just lay down and go to sleep....

The wonderful benefit of no snow this winter is all the bright sun. For those of us who live here, we barely notice the shortened hours of sunlight due to its intensity for the four to five hours that it does shine. The blue and white I have made observations of before, are just so intense and cool to look at. 

Here is a view of the Headwall above Alyeska Ski Resort with the moon above all. The photos today were taken with my iphone. I have a lot of experience taking photos beginning when we still used film. I do hot, however, have a great deal of experience with this phone photography. I did adjust the colors slightly to make them more realistic. They look a little rough to me however, so I will keep practicing. The phone does not give all of the settings and adjustments that a digital SLR gives, thank goodness for Photoshop! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Still waiting for snow

It is 7° in Girdwood this morning and the barometer is rising. Somehow, the snow managed to avert us this week. I did not see any indication on radar that this recent system dropped any precipitation. I can see frost crystals glinting under the street lights today.

Currently, the forecast gives us three days until another chance of snow. The system looks large coming from the west, lets hope it is dragging some moisture with it.

If you plan to come ski before the holiday break, dress warm. Likewise too if you plan to celebrate the solstice in Girdwood. The best fun will be helping the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club celebrate the opening of their new trail system. December 21 at 2pm, see the details on their web site.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

High clouds yet narry a flake in sight

12° this morning, a welcome increase after yesterdays 0's. The temperature stepped up to 14°, wow, not a big change. I can tell you why, we are covered by clouds, but they are high and thin. At times the light through the clouds was splotchy leading me to think we were on the edge of the storm. However, checking the satellite image, it seems we should be receiving some precipitation....nothing yet. Help us N-1-0 2-A.....

Usually, whatever the forecast is for snow, it snows in Girdwood. Not so this time with the forecast at a 40% chance in the day and 50% chance tonight. We still have tonight.....

Monday, December 17, 2012

Clear blue skies greeting us today

This morning the temperature is 1° at the T in Gridwood. There is a nice new layer of frost on all things exposed, building surfaces, signs, the road and the snow surface. Crunch crunch crunch, like eating cereal my husband said. The sky is that beautiful morning blue, the contrast with the snow covered mountains unbeatable. For beautiful sunrise images, check the weather cams at the tops of the mountains...

Does everyone know how to recognize frostbite? If you are not using hand and foot warmers on days like this for your excursions, you should be aware of the signs. Here is a link to the National Institute of Health first aid page for frost bite. If you experience sharp pain like pins and needles in hands or feet or face followed by numbness, take note, that could be the first sign of danger. Always stay in tune to your body when in cold conditions like these we are experiencing (high pressure systems that do not allow cloud cover to blanket the earth and help keep in warmth). This month there is an EMT 2 class happening at Girdwood Fire and Rescue. If you do happen to get into trouble, don’t hesitate to call 911. There are plenty of knowledgeable crew ready to help you recover!

A fun experience this kind of high pressure, deep cold, does allow is ice skating and snow machining on rivers. Here is a link to wikiHow which can guide you on finding safe ice. Take note, however, the North America Outdoor Institute advises us there is no safe ice, so follow all the advice you can for having an experience from which you return. For those visiting Girdwood soon, the pond at the Hotel Alyeska is open this winter for skating, bring your ice skates! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Expecting frost tonight, crisp snow surface

Cold, clean air filled Glacier Valley today. 5° at 9 am dropped to 1 by 11am and maybe back up to 5 by 3pm, if we were lucky. The air is back to that cold that freezes your nostrils when you go out for a walk. Turtle Furs are in order. 

The surface of the snow is crisp again as well. Forecast is predicting snow Tuesday, lets hope so. There are probably a lot of you hoping to go backcountry skiing on the up coming holiday break. Remember to check the Avalanche Information Center when planning your trip. There is always up-to-date data on snow stability. 

Here is a nice photo of alpenglow on the Headwall behind the daylodge. Further below is a glowing sunset. Is this enough “red sky at night” for “sailor’s delight” tomorrow? I think so. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The cold clear air is back

This morning it is 13° in Girdwood under clear skies. There may be some clouds along the Turnagain, that is yet to be seen. There is no wind as of yet, however there may be some later in the day.

The temperature remained cold all day and the wind did pick up around 9:30am. With the temperature hovering around 14° all day and a brisk wind, around 20 mph, there was (and is) about a -2° feel with wind chill. Here is a link to NOAA's wind chill chart. Refer to it before heading out tomorrow!

Friday, December 14, 2012

No danger of snow melt in the near future

It is quite cold this morning, 19° so there is no threat of the fresh snow melting. Girdwood is under a low blanket of fog this morning. If you look at the weather cam from the top of Mt. Alyeska you will see that there is bright sun above the Tram (CNFAIC scroll down to map and hover mouse over arrows, great views from Seattle Ridge and Sunrise). Sun is in our forecast for the next couple of days with frigid temperatures returning. Dress warm for skiing this weekend!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Temperature stayed cold for snow

Light flurries for a short time late morning. Temperature held around 30° all day. We had a little sun poking through occasionally. Should have been lovely skiing. With the warm hours we had recently, a good amount of ice melted from Glacier Creek, the view below looking up creek.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fabulous snow day

It has been snowing all night in Girdwood. I estimate (without having been outside  yet) 3-4 inches of fresh powder, the resort reports 5". The temperature is 30° at the T, frighteningly close to that point I dare not mention. The forecast is close to that point as well. NOAA predicts the snow turning to rain at the coast. It also predicts the temperature to stay just below freezing for Girdwood. Snow should continue tonight. Above is the Daylodge base at 9am, silky soft!

Please drive safe on the Seward if you are coming to ski in the fresh stuff, it will snow all day so there is no need to rush to be first on the mountain. Check Alaska 511 for road conditions and check the weather cams at CNFAIC.

For the skiers out there, look at this snow! Walking in un-plowed snow, it was about 9” deep at 9am. It is absolutely soft and beautiful. Here are some lovely photos, however, I don’t look forward to driving!

Update at 2pm, I just drove into  Anchorage it is snowing heavy in Girdwood but lightens along the way. Little rain near bird. The temperature warmed up to 37° at Potter's marsh then dropped back down to 27 in the city.

The temperature in Girdwood at 7p was 32°, the forecast was for rain along the coast which it did just a little on the Seward Highway. Thankfully, it stayed freezing and below in Girdwood. This evening at 9 pm it is 30° and it is still snowing. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stars are out this morning

Thank goodness the temperature has dropped down to 26° this morning. The snow is still crunchy and I am glad there will not be any melting today. We are in for a sunny day with anticipation of more snow tomorrow.

I drove into Anchorage late yesterday afternoon. With the warm air over the last two days, all the frost was gone from the marsh near the entrance to Girdwood. The trees at sea level had lost their grey frost sheen, and even the ice in Bird Creek had thawed! Let's hope that was a one-weekend event!

It was a beautiful clear day with the temperature holding at 26° most of the way through. However, at about 3pm I noticed the icicles dripping on the north side of my roof, strange. They did not completely melt, must have been from the warm radiating sun seen below. 

The forecast tells us we have 100% chance of snow tonight and tomorrow. The radar is a flashback to last winter. Last winter we had weekly storm systems that looked like straight highways of moisture coming up from the equator. I am very happy to see it as I am waiting for softer snow before I ski the mountain. The only drawback to the snow tomorrow is the fact that I will be driving into Anchorage to take the Master Gardener final test. Yikes! What will I be thinking of, the snow finally blanketing the soil surface to help protect the roots of our valuable trees. I will be glad that the temperatures did not warm up enough to activate the meristems and shoot apexes of plants. If that would have happened and the plants would have started growing and then those sensitive tips would have frozen! 

You saw the photo above of the sun glowing across the Turnagain Arm. Now look at this one below of the altocumulus clouds to moving in ahead of the storm.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Warm air creates crunchy snow surface

The temperature is steady at 33° this morning. Girdwood is experiencing light flurries that cannot decide if they want to be snow or rain. The snow has formed a crust on top due to the warmer air last night. I hear that skiing at the base is not so fun because of that. The light precipitation is accompanied by a fog bank. Above it is visible from the T looking toward downtown Girdwood.

Last night I shoveled most of my driveway (most because its a big drive with room for about 6 cars to park in) It was so warm I had to remove a couple of layers! This morning when I walked on the remaining snow, I could feel the crunch of breaking the top layer. The photo below kind of shows how warm its been. With the snow falling off the trees, the needles are shedding with it. Crunch crunch crunch....

Here is a shot at the base of the Daylodge. The fog clearly obscuring Max’s and the headwall. Our forecast is for the snow to taper off tonight and for clear skies tomorrow. Looks like the snow should return on Wednesday. Remember to check the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center for the most accurate weather.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

From too cold to too warm, snow is slosh

It is utterly amazing how quick the air has warmed up. We have been in a deep-freeze, temperatures in single digits for a month. Yet in one day a weather system rides up here from the south and raises the temperature to 31° this morning. 

One would have thought everything would have taken weeks to thaw, but no. The snow and ice are falling off the trees and roof lines are dripping. At 10pm the temperature was 33°. The resort recorded 6 inches of snow at the base. It did not snow all day as expected in Girdwood, rather it started raining in the afternoon. Sad. At least it did not rain for long. The forecast still entails snow, but at this temperature, I don’t know. 

There was a major wreck at mile 91 of the Seward this evening. Please drive slow, just because you have a big SUV or 4-wheel drive does not mean you can drive normal highway speeds on a snow covered, wet, winding road. 

This photo shows what the conditions were today and at the time the accident happened. The snow had turned to rain around 3pm. With the warmer temperatures, the snow had started to become slushy. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Temperature is up finally, 23° snow is coming!

The blizzard warning is still in effect, we are expecting over 8" of snow in Girdwood. Visibility will be low on the Seward highway, please drive slow and look out for busses. Its the first powder day!

It is cloudy and the temperature is finally up, 23°! Snow is 100% in the forecast. Interesting way the front hit south central.

Check alaska 511 and the avalanche information center for the most accurate weather, do not rely on your iphone weather app!

The snow has finally come and raised the temperatures as well. This morning at 9 am it was 30° unbelievable. The snow plow has been down the Alyeska Highway twice and will be needed all day!

The above view is the base of Alyeska at the Daylodge. It is a terrible photo, hard to focus because it was snowing so heavily. 

As of 5 pm, not an accurate measurement, but I’d say we have had between 3 and 4” of fresh fluff. My friends who drove in from Anchorage today said it was snowing the whole way. Another person said it was really windy. In Girdwood we only had about 30 minutes of winds heavy enough to knock about half the snow and ice off the trees. At 9pm the wind is gone and the snow has lightened considerably. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Still sunny, day 14? Blizzard in the forecast

Better news, in NOAA’s forecast today we have a blizzard warning for Saturday! Today, though, we wake to the familiar gorgeous bright blue sky. There was a slight dusting of snow last night as I see when the car leaves the driveway, nothing significant, until....tomorrow!

The snow added some girth to the branches already growing with frost. This was a nice dreamy view with the haze in the air. The light on the trees in the background could not have been better.

The temperatures were a few degrees warmer, 7-9° with flurries around Bird Point. Which was the sight of a single car roll-over accident this morning. I am telling everyone, that road may be ‘clear’ but it is still slick. The driver was going to fast around the curve and slid off to the ditch. He had to be extricated but was conscious. Be careful! Yes, I am one of those pokey cars on the Seward, be thankful!

We drove into Anchorage today, here are some nice images of frost with the Chugach Mountains around Eagle Glacier (in the background), and the Turnagain Arm.

Light flurries around Bird on the way home as well, but stars in the skies. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Real snow in the forecast, today still lovely blue

Good news in NOAA’s forecast this morning, looks like the high pressure is soon to break apart! Chances of snow have increased through the remainder of the week. Good news for Girdwood and the Alyeska ski resort, it looks like we have 100% chances on Saturday! We started the morning with some light clouds, but as the day went on it became very blue! Flying would be the thing these days....

Very happy, I saw two magpies today. Still has been a couple weeks since the steller jays have been seen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The frost is so glittery, and the sun so bright in December

I think last night has been the coldest so far, yet only -2° is acceptable when you consider the interior recently posted -50°. It is also ok considering we still are lucky to have no wind in Glacier Valley. I heard a couple of private planes go out for a flight see. This morning it is still -2° and we anticipate about +5 today. Again a reminder for those relying on your iphone weather apps–it is not accurate! Yes it is cold but not as cold as the app says. One day I will email whoever that is and tell them to use another station location. 

The drive into Anchorage today, at about 1pm, was spectacular once again. I hope I am not the only one that notices every time I drive the Seward the experience is different, not just the traffic, but the light and colors. Today there were patches of clouds and bright sunlight between. The sun was lighting up all the ice crystals on the trees, rocks, and even the road. It was like driving through a crystal tunnel! Notice I said even on the road there were ice crystals. This is a point to say that even though the road looks clear and we have not had precipitation in about two weeks, there is still ice on the road creating slick conditions. Take care when driving, passing, and rounding bends. Here is a close-up of the frost crystals with light on them so the sparkle effect is visible. Imagine this over and over glittering along the road side.

On the drive home, at 9:30 pm, there were patches of light clouds separated by views of the stars. Again on the drive home, the frost crystals were lit up by headlights. At night, though, it felt like driving through a glitter tunnel, disco night! The slight chance of snow proved true at Bird Point. At Bird there were light flurries of what I consider ice snow. The precipitation was glittery in the headlights too, not dull white like snow would be, but shiny. It was, after all, -2°. The snow was gone before Girdwood but the snowmaking machines on the mountain created an ice fog around itself. When there is ice fog, the spotlights create horizontal light rays, this was evident in oncoming headlights on the Seward. Another reason I felt the snow was more ice. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Small frost crystals sparkle

Today I will present some detailed photos of the frost build up. But first, here is our morning view across the valley. A light layer of clouds taunting us again with the chance of snow. The forecast gives us a 20 percent chance. However, I still see no sign that the lows are winning over the highs. Status quo. 

Max’s southside is surely happy this time of year. Without snow clouds, we hardly notice the shortening daylight. With only 18 days left to shorten, we will be back to lengthening days–a short yet bitter winter. 

I am fascinated by the frost crystals this month. They are much smaller that the large plates we had in October. I can only hypothesize that is due to the much colder temperatures making it harder for the water vapor to settle out onto existing crystals. In October the temperatures were in the 20’s and high teens. This month they have barely cracked 10°, today we will be lucky if it is over 7°.

This past weekend, as many locals and parents of high schoolers may know, Moose Meadows in Girdwood hosted the nordic and skate ski races. This was due to the fact that there was poor snow conditions at Kinkaid Park in Anchorage. Fortunately Girdwood has had a little more snow and has an avid Nordic Ski Club to maintain an extensive network of trails. The Girdwood Nordic club groomed Moose Meadows for the race so I thought I’d give it a try today. I did this with the knowledge in mind that the racers probably packed the trail and it would be icy. I wanted to give it a chance because at the end of last season, some of the best skiing was on ungroomed snow with a crispy surface. That was not to be the case this week. The conditions were terrible for regular nordic. I am not a skate skier so I cut across the center in a track someone else made and rounded out to head home.  There were other folks out there, even children indicating it is doable by better skilled people than myself. The most annoying, however, was all the dogs. Dogs are allowed in Moose Meadows, but what I never see is any owner picking up the poo. In addition to icy skiing conditions, there are trail hazards to avoid. Dog owners and their dogs, you get the finger! Pick it up! Plus, when spring comes and that concentration of poo seeps into the meadows, it spreads icky bacteria. And no, it is not natural to our environment! 

On to more pleasantries. Here is a selection of frost photos. Several of them have been enhanced, color shifted, and adjusted to highlight the crystal structures. No artificial crystals have been built in the making of these pictures. One thing I have noticed in this frost episode is the formation of little "pillows" of frost. These look like something has bubbled up from underneath. The pillows are small, about 2-4 inches across.

Here are some selections of branches. Although it looks like the branches are growing in thickness all the way around, indeed most have frost "hanging" as if the frost forms by gravity as well. 

Here are some awesome views of the crystal forms, frost close-up. Again, these are not as large as the 4-6 inch plates (20 cm) we saw in October. These are about 1-2 inches (2-5 cm)

Look at the special formations. Any mathematician, fibonaccians, or fractal experts I am sure know all about these.