Safeway PL 12-27-13

Ice fog in the Safeway parking lot.

The days are getting longer again, and perceptibly. The sun will rise at 10:56 this morning, and set 3 hours and 55 minutes later at 2:51 this afternoon. Tomorrow will be a whole 3 minutes longer than today, and the noon elevation of the sun is now increasing by about a tenth of a degree per day. It’s still getting colder, simply because the northern hemisphere takes time to cool. Our coldest weather, on average, is in January.

Distance from the sun has nothing to do with this. In fact our closest approach to the sun will be this coming Friday, when the earth is only 91,413,000 miles from the sun. We won’t be at our most distant, 94,510,000 miles, until early July. Seasons are all in the tilt of the earth’s axis toward and away from the sun.

Badger Rd 12-27-13

The road home. There is a traffic light just beyond the cars, but it’s not visible through the ice fog.

It’s finally turned cold even by Alaska standards. My electronic thermometer was stuck on LL (somewhere below 40 below) for several days around Christmas, and the dial thermometer reached close to 50 below. Officially, the temperature at the airport broke 40 below the day after Christmas, and ice fog was too dense to risk driving into town last Friday.

The road between North Pole and Fairbanks is a divided expressway, but it runs right by an Army base with a notorious power pant. The cooling pond is such a producer of ice fog that there are warning signs for low visibility, and servicemen recently rotated in from warmer climates sometimes take the 55 mph speed limit seriously, even when tail lights are invisible at ten feet. There have been several deaths due to collisions on this stretch of highway, and I went to the Safeway in North Pole for some desperately needed food. I didn’t miss the ice fog completely, but it was better in North Pole (which is where I took the photos) than on the Richardson Highway.

I’m glad to say it clouded over and gave us (relative) warmth over the weekend, though we haven’t gotten up to zero where I live. The forecast is for above zero even in the low areas New Year’s Day, though, so we can hope.