Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sloppy roads in Girdwood, some indoor plants benefit from steam in the bath

So much for the blue sky dots yesterday, today was grey with drizzle all day. The temperature remains at 34° in Girdwood. The roads are nothing but slush, dirty, messy slushies. The walking path is mush, and forget Moose Meadows. The weather is warming up the surface making it fairly un-skiable. Check the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club site for current grooming information. They have groomed the new 5K trail, however, the ground is too soft to groom in Moose Meadows.

My inquisitions of locals that have lived here a long time tell me there has been one or two times when opening of chair 6 at Alyeska Resort happened as late as January or February (it opened today for the first time this season). Ski Patrol has posted a very informative notice on the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information site regarding the snow conditions at the Resort. This notice will be helpful to those who are avid top-of-the-mountain skiers to understand why North Face and so many outer areas are not open. It delivers some great information regarding avalanche occurrences and includes a good video.

For the plant lovers out there, you may be tempted to start your seeds now or be eyeing that newly exposed ground in your yard. Don't fall for the warm temperatures yet. February will be a better time to start seed. And we all know it will freeze again either this month or next. If you have indoor bromeliads or orchids a good way to keep them happy this time of year, when it is dry inside, is to hang them or place them in your bathroom. This way they can take advantage of the humidity from your shower or baths.  These types of plants take in moisture through their exposed parts, orchids especially. Just remember to keep them near a window or return them to a brightly lit area after their steam.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Snow at high elevations and a little blue sky in Girdwood

There has been light snow fall at sea level in Girdwood the past two nights, however, no build up. The top of the mountain though has been blessed with over a foot of fresh snow. Anywhere over 500 feet elevation is cold enough to retain snow. The snow has been building up so much, Alyeska's snow safety has been hard at work to clear avalanche dangers. The howitzers started at 8 am. There will be no danger for skiers at the top of the mountain as the tram remains closed due to the accident earlier this week.  It still remains above freezing at 34° in Glacier City today at the base of the mountain. 

I drove into Anchorage yesterday and saw the ice and snow had melted in all the marsh areas along Seward Highway along the Turnagain Arm. The sides of the mountains look good where the snow has stayed on the trees. It was nice to be just 40 miles down the road and experience some blue sky and sun shine. Today in Girdwood we are seeing a bit of blue sky between the fluffy clouds, a nice reprieve from the rain.

If you have indoor plants, be sure to check their soil for moisture. Winter care for indoor plants is important because the environment is quite different from the summer. Its easy to forget about their water needs when we people feel so warm. Our central heat systems and gas heaters really lower the humidity in our homes in the winter. Stick your finger into the soil up to the first knuckle after your finger tip. If the soil is dry, water your plants until water runs out the base. Or, if your houseplants are sitting in saucers, fill the saucer full so the soil can absorb from the base. 

A gorgeous sunset toward the Cook Inlet. This photo does not do it justice. Will be working with a better camera in the future.....

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Above freezing in Girdwood with a break in the rain

Glacier City is receiving a nice break from precipitation and ultra-grey skies. The temperature, however, is still above freezing. It is 34° at the T this morning. As of noon, the resort is still firing rounds from the howitzer to try and clear potential avalanche danger. They started at 8 am this morning. There was a fair amount of snow on the upper mountain, snow looks like it held steady at about 5-700 feet elevation. At sea level, not so snowy. 

I like seeing the snow stuck on the trees on Max’s shoulder. That gives a better feeling of winter, which it should be! 

Thankfully there were no drunk driving accidents on New Year’s. There were some calls for cold exposure, which in a way was a drunk accident. Drunk kids not realizing they were too cold because they were so inebriated. 

The Resort had an accident due to high winds. A gust blew a tram car into the tower carrying the cables. See more about it on this news website. Everyone made it to the base safely and there were no major injuries. Quite an exciting way to begin a new year! 

Parts of the earth remain exposed to the air today in Girdwood. If you planted new trees this past year, you would do well to mulch around their bases to protect tender roots from freezing the next time the temperature drops. Trimmed tree limbs with needles still on them make good mulch, or you can purchase shredded wood mulch at any garden center. 

Here is a view up Glacier Creek toward Raven Glacier. There are areas on the creek where the water is melting over the snow, seen in the center right. Normally the snow and ice would be covering more of the creek flow and the flow under the bridge. There is no snow under the bridge. 

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!