Well, our day length dropped below 4 hours today. The sun will rise at 10:44 this morning and set at 2:44 pm, but we’re a few seconds short of a four-hour “day.” The sun is only 2.4° above the horizon at midday, so we effectively have sunrise blending into sunset. The amount we’re losing per day is rapidly decreasing though, and the solstice is only 11 days away. I am looking forward to the days getting longer again.

Riverboat Nenana

The Riverboat Nenana, decked out for the Holidays. I once taught dog training classes on the lower deck.

At least it’s warmed up a little. Yesterday was the first day in quite a while with a temperature above 0°F, and we had about an inch of snow. The last look I got at the snow stake the depth on the ground was up to 7”, but we may have received more last night. (We did. Make that 8″ as of 10 am, though it’s still far to dark for a picture.) Maybe if it stays warm they’ll get the downtown Christmas decorations up. So far, the main municipal lights I’ve seen are the ones out at Alaskaland Pioneer Park.

One of the things about living in Alaska is that you get really tuned in to the seasonal variation in day length, sunrise and sunset times, and temperatures. Here in the Interior we have an extreme continental climate, which means major temperature changes (the Fairbanks record temperatures are 99°F and -66°F) while staying relatively dry (we’re technically a desert based on mean annual precipitation, though it’s downright boggy in places.) We tend to get really excited about the winter solstice, when the days start getting longer again, though it arrives before the coldest month of the year. Not being able to drive in the dark, I’m really looking forward to the longer days.

P.S. at 7 pm: the weather report tonight has a winter storm watch in effect from early Wednesday morning to Thursday afternoon, with 4″ to 10″ of snow expected. Maybe we’ll get some ground insulation, but I may have to have the driveway plowed.

P.P.S. sunset (2:43 pm) Tuesday: It’s snowing and the snow stake was already up to 10″ when it got too dark to see. The winter storm warning (no longer just a watch) doesn’t even start until tomorrow morning.

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