A new season

colors of fall

The color of fall, Angie Pobieglo’s blooming Dahlia/Angie Pobieglo photo

The green, green grass of October is marking the development of a Brave New Season for the residents of Alaska’s urban core.


In a land that usually transitions rapidly from summer to winter – or from the no-snow season to the snow-season as Alaska sourdoughs come to think of it – there is this year the oddity of an actual fall.

Instead of the frozen ground of a normal October, there are the blooming flowers of a warming northland.

Anchorage’s Angie Pobieglo on Wednesday posted online photos of her blooming Dahlia’s and added in a message that “I’ve got roses and begonias still blooming too and my sunflowers and gladiolus just bloomed yesterday.”

Rural residents of the 49th state have long joked about the largest city as Los Anchorage, because of its distinctly urban nature and abundance of residents unprepared to venture into the wild.

But now the city appears to be moving in a truly California direction climate wise, or at least a Seattle one.

September ended more than 8 degrees warmer than normal and much, much drier, according to the National Weather Service, and the trend has now continued more than halfway through October.

Anchorage on Tuesday set a new record for the latest date without frost at the NWS headquarters near Ted Stevens International Airport, and with every day now comes a “new, new record,” as NWS weatherman David Snider termed it.

The NWS forecast for the rest of the week and into early next week calls for the coldest temperatures to drop only into the mid-30s.

“There is green grass throughout my yard,” longtime Alaskan Doug O’Harra observed today. He’d already mowed the lawn once in October, a rarity in and of itself, and was thinking about how maybe he should mow it again.

“It’s unfrickin’ believable,” he said. “In my experience, everything should be rock-solid frozen by now.”

The data only backs up O’Harra’s memory. The NWS’s, long-term, historic average low for Anchorage normally hits freezing on Oct. 10 and then just keeps going down. By this date, the daily low is supposed to be down to 29 degrees – three-degrees below freezing – and falling.

The thermometer Wednesday bottomed out at 48 degrees, about the same overnight low as Seattle. The day’s high temperature of 56 degrees was a record. The normal high is 40, a staggering 16 degrees colder.

At noon today, the temperature was 49 degrees and forecast to go to 54.

And Anchorage wasn’t the only city in the state basking in a global-warming glow. Three-hundred-fifty miles to the north on the Arctic side of the Alaska Range in the usually frozen-by-now heart of the state, Fairbanks – the second largest city – had yet to see snow.

The lack of a white ground covering was the talk of the town.

“Snow a no-show in Fairbanks,” the local newspaper reported on Sunday.

“Since the previous record for the latest trace of snow in Fairbanks was Oct. 11, 1920, our lack of snowfall this year breaks a 98-year-old record,” the story said.

The NWS was promising snow by tonite or Friday in Fairbanks, but it was likely to be mixed with rain given temperatures forecast to hit highs in the 40s. The mid-October norm for the Central Alaska city is highs near freezing and lows in the teens.

A normal, average daily temperature for Fairbanks on Wednesday would have been 24 degrees. It was instead 38, which was not just 14 degrees above the daily average; it was 7 degrees above the average daily high for the date. 

Many are relishing the change. Some like O’Harra have mixed feelings.

“If it’s not going to snow, I at least want it to freeze so I can go skating or fat biking,” he said.

Alaskans who love the outdoors often, oddly enough, relish winter when travel in the road-short north – be that travel by snowmachine, dog sled, skis or fat bike – is a whole lot easier than in the summer when swamps and lakes, and marshes and rivers, throw barriers in front of the adventurous.

The winter travel situation is not looking so good for those people at the moment.

The climate weather outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) out today said an El Nino appears to be brewing in the southern Pacific Ocean which is likely to spin more warm weather north to Alaska. 

The prediction for December through February put the odds at better than 60 percent that most of Alaska will be warmer than usual. And the monthly outlook for Gulf of Alaska gave odds of greater than 50 percent for warm weather in the days ahead.

November is expected to continue dryer than normal, according to NOAA, but a wetter trend is predicted for December through February. O’Harra is hoping for snow.

Some El Nino winters have brought a lot of the white stuff. Often in the Anchorage area, all it takes is a drop in temperature of but a couple degrees to turn the precipitation white.

“I’m looking at the glass half full,” O’Harra said as he contemplated whether he should fire up the lawn mower hopefully for one last time, “(but) we’re in uncharted territory.”





24 replies »

  1. ‘Rapid cooling’ underway: Big Drop In Earth’s June Temperatures According To Satellites

    Second largest 2-month drop in global average satellite temperatures.

    Largest 2-month drop in tropical average satellite temperatures.

    The Version 6.0 global average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly for June, 2016 is +0.34 deg. C, down 0.21 deg. C from the May value of +0.55 deg. C
    This gives a 2-month temperature fall of -0.37 deg. C, which is the second largest in the 37+ year satellite record…the largest was -0.43 deg. C in Feb. 1988.

    In the tropics, there was a record fast 2-month cooling of -0.56 deg. C, just edging out -0.55 deg. C in June 1998 (also an El Nino weakening year).

    The rapid cooling is from the weakening El Nino and approaching La Nina conditions by mid-summer or early fall.

    With most models predicting La Nina conditions by the autumn, we can expect temperatures to tumble a lot further by the end of the year.

    Sorry fellas.

  2. Looking at the last 50 million years of our climate it appears that we are in a very warm period of a cooling planet. We have had recurrent ice ages for some 2 million years and I have not read any serious scientist who believes the ice sheets will not come back anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 years from now. In fact, it is entirely possible that we may have temporarily delayed a new onset of glaciation with our carbon and methane emissions. Take a good look at what the world looks like in an ice age. You cannot feed 6 billion people in a world with massive ice sheets.

    • Robert, I’ll bet you also haven’t read any serious scientist who believes that monkeys might fly out of someone’s ass anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 years from now!

    • There is no 2 million years of data much less 50 million. It is all a scam to get federal grants to waste tax payer money. The LOVE OF MONEY is the ROOT OF ALL EVIL.

  3. When I saw that flower, I thought of the “flower” as a sign of Peace in the late 60’s and early 70’s in America….
    As we currently see a rise in authoritarian regimes like Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Phillipines, Pakistan, Turkey, Israel and China that are killing (or imprisoning) all journalists who attempt to report on human rights violations in their regions, we must work together to have our voices heard in America. 3/4 of the world now has a state run press with no alternative opinions printed or discussed…essentially NO “freedom of press”.
    The latest brutal killing of a Washington Post reporter inside the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey shows how far these atrocities are advancing.
    “The reframing of repression as anti-terror,” according to Simon, is a long-term trend that predates the Trump era, but “there is some evidence that governments are taking advantage of his rhetoric to justify arrests.” Ewen said this also includes “countries where you don’t usually see this type of rhetoric or rationale.”

  4. Damit Craig, I wrote a 100.00 check to you as I support your investigative reporting, although left wing leanings.This climate change B.S. is what it is, we only what we see what is in our lifetime.
    I haven’t turned on my heat until 2 weeks ago. Is that a problem? No, saved me $100’s of dollars.
    Roll with the punches. Life and weather changes regularly. Don’t blame fear for reality. I held the check. Your left leaning B.S. gets me off tract. Sorry. I do like your investigative work..

    • Gary: science doesn’t lean. it only goes where it goes.

      i’m nowhere near as confident of the theory of climate change as i am of the theory of evolution. but the preponderance of evidence here is that the globe is getting warmer.

      the right/left argument should be reserved for the discussion of the consequences of that change. so far that debate has been dominated by left-leaning folks who think the sky is falling, and there’s no doubt it will drop in some places.

      other places, it might rise. what was once considered a giant Alaska boondoggle – the Delta Barley Project – could become a shining star for Alaska agriculture:

      and, as you note with your home heating bill, there are other pluses for AK. the state should actually be talking about how some of those and how the state economy might capitalize on change. but we seem to suffer from a lack of visionaries.

      • Craig, what is that “theory of climate change” you mention? You sound as if there is one.

      • Well put Craig…
        The State can stop wasting money on pet projects that never pan out and help the Susitna Valley develop their Agriculture.
        Many parcels like the area around Willow were once chosen as federal / state homestead sites do to their fertile soil.
        Maybe the state can extend the loan privileges and subsidies awarded to the fishing industry and work to make AK less dependent on barges from the outside for the majority of produce and grains?
        I do know their is a “high tunnel” state grant program in place for cost reimbursement, but it involves registering your land as “AG land” something many property owners are hesitant to do.

      • Steve, not sure if this is applicable but I have some friends who proved up on AG land some years ago. They were able to remove a portion of their 80 acre parcel that contained their home. What are the reasons you say some are reluctant to registering their land as AG?

      • Bill,
        Some folks feel passing on “ag land” deeds are less valuable for further resale of parcels. (Hence lower taxes though)
        I am not sure that I agree, since with the changing temps and extended growing season, land that is fertile may be very valuable at some point.
        I chose to not apply for the grant yet, because the state also controls how you grow for the first four or five years…it is a sort of contract for the high tunnels.
        Starter greenhouse and high tunnel type structures seem like necessary tools to produce a surplus for community.

    • Thank you Bill. Agree with Paul. Utter nonsense or as he says “BRAVO SIERRA”. What are you going to say if next year it is -20 in October? What will the excuse be then? Oh, I know, Global Cooling is actually “Global Warming”.

      • Is that a prediction, Bryan?? And of note: You seem to have dropped the El nino reasonings-is that running out of gas?

      • Bill, I certainly did not drop el Nino. I figured with your initial post that my scientific fact was assumed 🙂

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