Just to prove sunflowers can be grown in Alaska.
The sun will rise this morning at 6:53, and set 13 hours 50 minutes later at 8:42 this evening, giving us a day 6 minutes 40 seconds shorter than yesterday. We now have true astronomical night (sun more than 18° below the horizon) for a couple of hours, starting after midnight. The first two days in September gave us more rain than we get in an average whole month of September, so while it’s clear right now, I’m not counting on it staying that way. Clear this time of year means frost danger, anyway.And the forecast for this week is mostly clear to slightly cloudy, with forecast lows in the high 20’s to low 30’s.
This one was taken when I was a postdoc at NCAR in the early 70’s/
Alaska and sunflowers are a chancy combination in September, as we’re already looking over our shoulders for Jack Frost. (Looking over our shoulders? We’ve already had several hard frosts.) But I know where to find a garden of 6 ‘ sunflowers, and I stopped and took a picture on my way to the Farmers’ Market last week. (Good thing I did it in late August, because when I went by two days ago the frost had taken them.) I also have a nice sunflower photo I took sometime in 1971, while I was at NCAR and taking wildflower photos on the Mesa. So while I didn’t purchase or plant a sunflower in Tina Downey’s memory, I am posting these two photos in honor of a much-missed blogging voice. Rest in peace, Tina.
The sun will rise this morning at 2:59 and set 21 hours and 48 minutes later at 12:47 tomorrow morning. This near the solstice, the day length changes by less than a minute a day, and it is bright twilight all night.
Until the middle of last week we still had red flag warnings and high fire danger, but starting Wednesday we went into a rainy pattern. In fact, we are running at about twice normal rainfall for the month, and we’ve gone from fire weather advisories to local flood advisories virtually overnight. Highs for the next week are expected to be around 70, but with lots of scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms in the afternoons.
All this rain has been great for the garden. The first domesticated rose has opened. I’m not sure what variety, but it transplants easily, suckers freely, and makes a nice hedge on the east side of the lawn. It is not a rugosa, which I bought it as, but looks more like a spinosissima. Lot of little tiny spines, and a pretty but small double shell-pink flower.
The green zucchini have female flowers, and are actually showing tiny squash. The yellows are a good deal behind them, but they are showing buds. (The black stuff is IRT plastic, which lets solar infrared through to warm the soil, but blocks visible light to stop weeds.) Unfortunately the weeds are enjoying the rain also; I’m going to have to spend a morning trying to get back ahead of them.
The sun will rise at 3:50 this morning, and set 19 hours 57 minutes later at 11:48 this evening. By next week, it’ll be setting after midnight. The rate of gain of daylight is slowing down by a few seconds a day, now.
It’s also warmed up at night, although cooling down in the daytime, as the air flow has shifted to the southwest, bringing moisture to the interior of Alaska. Not much precipitation yet, though we’ve had a few sprinkles and enough clouds to warm things up at night and cool them down during the daytime. With luck, it will stay above freezing now. With even more luck, the fire danger will ease off.
I’m crossing my fingers on the squash and basil, but we planted most of the garden Saturday. I still have the plastic up on the hoops, but I hope I won’t have to use it on anything but the squash. I’ve planted two of the raised beds with mints and herbs, surrounding them with flowers, and tried something new this year with strawberries. If it works, it should keep the berries cleaner and much easier to pick, but I won’t know for sure for a few weeks yet.
It’s the last day of March, and the sun will rise at 7:10 this morning, stay above the horizon for 13 hours and 31 minutes, and set at 8:41 this evening. Yesterday I had no problem driving home from the symphony, aside from the glare of the sun on snow.
Temperatures have been about normal, and are expected to stay that way. It gets a little above freezing in the daytime and the heavily traveled roads are generally dry, but the white ice roads (including mine) are just glazed. At least they’re not collapsing yet. They’re several inches deep in packed snow, though, which makes quite a step when the plows push back the berms along the main road.
We have a possibility of snow showers a week from now, but so far there hasn’t been much melting of the undisturbed snow. It’s still 22” deep in my yard.
I’m feeling fine and the pathology looks good after the latest surgery (10 days ago) and should find out today what’s ahead in the way of radiation and chemo. Very annoying, just as I’m getting my hair back, even if it does look more like a poodle’s coat than like me.
Note that Horse Power, my Amazon short, will be free through April 4th. The weather video isn’t up as of 10 pm Sunday; I’ll add it Monday morning if it’s up by then.
The ice chapel still shows the transparency of the ice.
This will be a short post, because my modem is acting up. I will try to get the information I need and upload it (on Sunday) from Safeway, the closest place I am reasonably sure I can get Wi-Fi, if the modem goes out again. Apologies to those I was unable to visit on Weekend Writing Warriors; even my e-mail is affected, and the store where I can get the needed parts won’t be open until today.
The sun will rise this morning at 7:36, and set 12 hours 44 minutes later at 8:20 this evening. It’s getting a little sloppy in the daytime, though night-time temperatures are still below zero. Not to complain – we can have 40 below as late as the end of March.
The train station shows how the ice turns milky due to partial internal melting in the sun.
When I visited Ice Alaska Friday, the sculptures ranged from slightly drippy to total collapse. Generally the south faces of exposed blocks had changed from transparent to flat white due to internal melting. For those who may have worried about my surgery last Wednesday, it went well enough I was walking around the ice park Friday, though some of the pictures were taken from the train.
Daylight savings, and we’re back to sunrise at 8:27 am. We’re actually on double daylight savings based on longitude, as Alaska Standard Time is already an hour farther east than our true longitude, and 2 hours east for Nome, also in the same time zone. This far north, true time zones are close together.
At any rate the sun will set tonight at 7:37, after a day almost 11 hours 10 minutes long. The Equinox is coming*; only about a week and a half to go, now!
Temperatures this month have been slightly above normal until the weekend, with highs mostly in the 20’s and lows sub-zero – ideal for the ice park, where it’s warm enough that water can be used as glue to weld ice blocks together without being so warm that the ice melts. We did have a couple of inches of snow midweek, and the backyard snow stake now reads very close to two feet. We’re also getting into a cold spell over the weekend (highs not always above zero) but it’s forecast to be pretty short.
*At 8:57 on March 20 ADT, to be precise.
The sun will rise at 7:52 this morning, and set 10 hours 16 minutes later at 6:11 this afternoon. (Sunrise is in the future tense only because I switched my posting time to midnight.) The sun is getting higher in the sky, too, 18.6° at solar noon, now. With our snow cover and clear skies the past week, sunglasses have definitely been needed! The days are now lengthening by 6 ¾ minutes a day. The roads are still icy; we’ve had some brief thaws, but on all but the busiest freeways it’s merely polished the ice.
The ice park is open and the judging of the single block competition is complete. The weather has been close to ideal: sunny, with daytime temperatures just below freezing. First Place abstract and Artist’s Choice went to Carnival, sculpted by Ivan Zuev and Nikkolay Stepanov from Russia.
Carnival: first Place Abstract
First Place Realistic went to Love in Motion, by Victo Jagatan and Joel McRae from the United States.
Love in Motion: First Place Realistic
I looked at the multi-block area Saturday, a few hours after the sculpting started, but there was too much heavy equipment running around to get much in the way of pictures. I’ll try again this afternoon, after my first iMovie class.
The sun will rise at 8:17 this morning, and set 9 hours 35 minutes later at 5:52 this evening. Sunset was still a little early for me to take in the symphony concert, though I didn’t have to worry about leaving the writers’ group early.
It’s still been on the chilly side this past week, with lows well below zero and highs skirting right around zero – about ten degrees below normal for this time of year. Mostly clear skies, which with the snow on the ground and the sun 16° above the horizon means really bright. It might warm up next week, though “warming up” this time of year means highs in the 20’s and lows around zero.
Ice Alaska is due to open today. I’ll go by and get my season ticket, and try to take some videos. I’m taking a class in March on using iMovie, and I need some footage to play with. They’ll just be starting the single-block carving, but the slides, maze and climb-on sculptures should be ready. Might get some pictures to post tomorrow. Meanwhile, here’s the official forecast.
The sun will rise at 8:42 this morning, and set 8 hours and 47 minutes later at 5:29 this afternoon. It gets up to 13.5 ° above the horizon at 1:05 pm now. It’s still cold, with occasional snow flurries. I now have 2 feet of snow on the ground, occasionally marked by moose tracks. Temperatures are generally in the minus 20’s at night and below zero in the daytime, though it might warm up a little by the weekend. Most likely it’ll stay about 10 degrees colder than normal this week, but at least no 40 below is forecast here in the Fairbanks area. The north coast may really be getting it, though.
The roads are still slick, but no more so than usual.
We don’t get much wind here in the valley, but wind chill has been setting records in some parts of the state. That I can do without!
Spring’s approaching! The sun will rise at 9:29 this morning and set a whole 7 hours 12 minutes later at 4:41 this afternoon. We’re gaining a fairly steady 5 ¾ minutes a day in day length. We’re not going to get over winter immediately or even in six weeks, though, no matter what Punxsutawney Phil says. In fifty years up here, I’ve never seen the snow start to melt seriously by the middle of March. Not that it hasn’t been warm for Alaska: we were 15.5°F above normal for January.
The forecast is for above normal temperatures continuing, but that does not mean above freezing, or even above zero, though subzero highs are not forecast until next weekend. Still, I worry a little about that ridge in the jet stream in last night’s forecast. If it continues to move west and locks in over the Bering Strait, we could get 40 below or colder.
Lots of seed catalogs, and my hair is indeed coming in curly at least for the moment, though I don’t expect it to last.