Winter may not be here for another month by the calendar, but it certainly feels like it’s present. Fairbanks has already had an official temperature below 40 below, and I’m sure it’s been much colder where I live. Remember that new indoor-outdoor thermometer? It starts reading LL at temperatures below 40 below, and except for a few hours around noon that’s all it’s read lately. Last night at bedtime it had already switched from forty below to LL, and this morning’s news said we’d set new low temperature records for six days straight. That’s in Fairbanks; North Pole is generally colder.

View from a south window. Note that the time is very close to solar noon.

We’re still losing around 6 minutes a day of daylight but the loss has started to slow down, with the loss each day decreasing by 4 seconds. Today the sun rose at 9:46 in the morning, and it will set at 3:26 this afternoon for 5 hours and 39 minutes of daylight. At its highest the sun is only a little more than ten times its diameter above the horizon, and it’s barely visible through the trees south of my house. Driving is only possible for me around noon, and driving toward the sun makes it very difficult to see where I’m going. Especially since the condensed water in the auto exhaust makes dense contrails behind each vehicle.

It’s supposed to be wonderful weather for stargazing and aurora watching, but I have to confess I haven’t had the nerve to brave the cold. I did manage to get to our writing group’s reading at Barnes and Noble Saturday night, thanks to a fellow author. I’m afraid most of the listeners were part of the group.

It is, however, forecast to begin clouding over a bit, which will warm things up. Clouds here act as a blanket in the winter. Maybe we’ll even get some more snow. Nothing has melted, but the snowpack has settled to around 8”, which is not enough to insulate the ground and keep buried pipes from freezing..