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.