Friday, March 11, 2011

Alaska Update.2011.03.10 - Northern Lights!

When I arrived at work this morning the temperature was 23 below zero; 47 below zero with the wind chill factor. It was a gorgeous morning and a cloud free sky with a moon that looked like a Halloween advertisement, except that it wasn't full.

Driving in, from the side, I saw an odd cloud and instantly realized that it wasn't a cloud at all, but auroral activity. So, I pulled into a parking lot and watched while this long tendril of pale green light arched and undulated and slithered across the northern sky like a snake covered with feathers. It lasted about 5 minutes before the sky lightened enough that I could no longer see it.

Graded 1 to 10 on the spectacular scale, it was probably about a .4 - but still, it was the Northern Lights and the first I've seen. The chance that I will see it again before next winter is about zero. I suppose it's like me counting that I've been in Washington state (I don't) even though I've only really been in SeaTac Airport about 20 times and never anywhere else.

We are already at about 13 hours of daylight and we get about 9 more minutes each day, or about an hour more daylight every week. When I return from my next R and R, I will be driving to and from work in the daylight. Right now it is still mostly dark on my drive in, but light for my entire drive home.

While I was home in February the Slope was shut down completely for three days and barely functioned for about seven because of a massive blizzard, called a Big Blow up here. The picture attached is Tammy Rushing standing on our camp building. She just walked up the snow to the top. It took a couple of days to dig out so that people could drive. So far, I have not been in a storm like that; they all happen while I am gone!

It is steadily warming; with the temps usually hanging around 10 below; on days that it warms more, there is usually snow and often, wind too. I am surprised at how little the cold bothers me. I really thought I would have a hard time making it through the winter, but, as I always say: "It's not that bad!" Strange as it may seem, when it is 50 degrees at home, I am freezing!

Driving home the other day, I saw three caribou. I am amazed at how they can survive the 6 months of total snow cover on the tundra. Most migrate south to the Brooks Range, but a handful never leave here. Aside from them, I still see foxes regularly and an occasional raven. I'm looking forward to May and the arrival of the birds.

From the Arctic Circle............I remain, Deadhorse Connie

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazing stuff Connie. Thanks for sharing.....Debi

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