If you are new to Alaska, this is not normal.
If you are new to this place that sits above the 60th parallel (most of it, anyway), Oct. 26 is not supposed to be 45 degrees and rainy. For us sourdoughs, we’re expecting to see snowflakes any day now.
We’re expecting to be trick-or-treating with snow boots on, to be forming tightly packed snowballs that our unwary friends will soon discover are headed their way. We’ve long since popped off the summer tires and tightened on the studded wear. (Our poor roads are being eaten alive by those studs. Sorry, DOT.)
We’re expecting a winter season that lasts from mid-October to mid-March, when the last heavy dump of snow unleashes itself on St. Patrick’s Day partiers. That is an ideal winter season, at least to me.
But here we are, less than a week out from Halloween, and we don’t have any snow. That in itself isn’t too terribly unusual in recent years, but what is unusual is still how far away from snow we seem to be.
The Kenai area has yet to see a daily low temperature of freezing, and once we do see that, the daily high must follow suit for a stable snowpack to stick around.
If you’ve been around long enough to have received a cool $1,600 in your bank account earlier this month, then you know what kind of winters we look forward to here on the Kenai Peninsula. The last two seasons have brought the goods, putting down enough snow to satisfy those skiers, snowboarders, backcountry wanderers, snowmachiners and the like. The consensus seems to be that if we’re not moving around on snow by Thanksgiving, we’re in for a tough haul.
September brought with it a bevy of daily high temperature records for Southcentral Alaska. Anchorage saw nine days last month that broke the daily high, leading to the warmest September on record, and the temps regularly sat a good 15 to 20 degrees warmer than normal daily highs.
Having earned my journalism degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, I can say from firsthand experience that the first snow flurries of the season always arrived before the end of September. This year, there was no trace measurement of snowfall by the end of the month.
The fact that we haven’t even had a freeze yet means we’ll be waiting a while before the ground is cold enough to allow snow to stick.
So what do we do while we wait? Enjoy the warm weather (for now), I suppose, and keep up the snow dances. It might be the only thing that works.