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. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hark, clouds!

What a beautiful day to document! There was a hint of a slight chance of a possibility of snow in the air! Clouds thinly floating overhead obscured my–what has become normal–blue sky over the Glacier Valley. Yesterday the weather forecast predicted a chance of snow this coming Thursday, but as of this morning, that chance was removed. Below the light clouds are also seen over the heavily man-made snow at the base of the ski area behind the Daylodge.

Too bad I was not able to really sit still for many of these photos, well I did kind of. My husband needed to make a run into Anchorage and I was able to leave work early to go with him. I was the passenger so I had the opportunity to snap some pics along the Seward. Here is Penguin Ridge three days after I posted the picture of Penguin when the temperature at the top of the ridge was warmer than below. As a result of that condition the fog had created a grey frost layer at the base. The photo directly below shows frost is now coating the entire mountain. Below this single photo is a side-by-side of the two days, December 3 on the left and November 30 on the right. There has been three days without fog indicating the temperatures are moderating all the way up. In fact it has not been above 10° in Glacier valley for four days. 

Dec 3 Nov 30

The low fog/inversion was not just an event on our side of the arm, it covered the entire arm. Here we see across the Turnagain Arm to the Hope side and the layer of frost at the base. 

After a rather quick trip all around the south side of town, we returned to Girdwood in time for sunset. Here is a view down Glacier Creek from the bridge. What a difference a few clouds can make. We haven’t been totally without color in the evenings, the alpenglow has been just as lovely. 

Here we see across downtown over the new town square park with its one lonely tree left by the bizarre park plan.