Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Groundhog Day

People in Anchorage are fond of saying “If you don’t like the weather here, just wait a few minutes and it’ll change.”  But this is totally inaccurate.  People who make this statement must not go outdoors very much.  Unlike some other parts of Alaska, where the weather truly does change quickly, dramatically and often (like the Aleutian Islands) Alaska’s topography and geography makes for “trendy” weather in Anchorage.  Early last winter, for example, we got into a pattern in which it seemed like the jet stream brought every single snowstorm straight to Anchorage and parked it here.  This pretty much continued all winter and we ended up breaking the city’s all-time record for snowfall.  This summer and fall was rainy – from beginning to end.  Lasse’s parents claim that they were able to come here for a three-week visit in July with only three days of rain, but of course I don’t believe them.  They must be in denial about their decision to take a soggy, miserable Alaska vacation instead of spending that time soaking up the rays on the beach beside the Baltic Sea.

But last month, as soon as it got cold enough to snow, the sun came out.  And it’s been out ever since.  Every morning is like the movie “Groundhog Day”.  I don't like to look a gift horse in the mouth, and it sounds pretty bratty to complain about beautiful sunny weather, but skiers are starting to curse at the sun.  We’re in a familiar Alaska weather pattern, with a big bubble of high-pressure over central Alaska, preventing any stormy weather from reaching us here in Anchorage, and every storm goes around Anchorage instead of through it.  According to the National Weather Service, we have only received about a quarter of the typical snowfall for Anchorage so far this fall – three inches. And there’s no change in the weather predicted. 
Nevertheless, there is a little bit of snow in town, and we have been skiing on it with our rock skis.  And the cold temperatures and lack of snow do not seem to have wiped the smiles off our skiers' faces.

In other news, the Ski Club’s long-awaited snowmaking project at Kincaid Park is coming closer to fruition.  Snow guns have been installed and connected to the irrigation system on the ski trails and the system is pretty much all in place and ready to go.  The word around the club is that the TechnoAlpin experts are scheduled to arrive in Anchorage today to teach the Club how to operate the system, run water into the pipes, flip the electrical switches and see what happens.  The theory is that with four to five days of continuous operation in cold weather, the club could put down snow on a four-kilometer loop.  But first, they need to find out if the system works or if additional troubleshooting is necessary.  Keep your fingers crossed.

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