Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Oh wait... its still only July! If you stopped in and talked to any of the local mushers in Willow, Alaska the last few weeks, most, if not all may have been humming this tune or maybe one about rain. It has been an abnormally warm and sunny summer here in South Central Alaska. During Iditarod Sign Ups back in June, mushers were discussing ways to make sure their dogs were staying cool and hydrated and preparing for the temperatures to rise close to 90 in the coming days. July began with temperatures hovering in the high 80s and low 90s around the area. Fire danger rose to the extreme level and all burning and fireworks were banned in many areas of the state. Wildfires spread across the state - to the north in the Fairbanks area, to the south on the Kenai, to the east toward Copper Center and the west to McGrath... and eventually in Anchorage and up in the Susitna Valley. Friends and neighbors were affected and evacuation plans were put to the test. Our local firefighters and forestry personnel from near and far have been working diligently to protect our communities. Hopefully with moderating temperatures and now rain falling fire danger will lessen and crews will catch a break. As you drive "to town" along the Parks Highway it is evident that the lack of precipitation has impacted our environment. Fall looks to be arriving early as trees have begun to drop leaves and the grass along the sides of the highway is dead or dying. Swampy areas have literally dried up. During the days of the Midnight Sun, temperatures lingered into the 80s late into the evening. Now night is beginning to return and hopefully cooler temperatures and some decent precipitation will follow. The fireweed is beginning to reach its peak. Soon school children will head back to the classrooms and sled dogs that have been out of town will return from their summer gigs on the glaciers and mushers' camps. The howls of happy sled dogs will return to the area. Temperatures will begin to dip below 40 in the evenings and mushers will be seen with their teams on the trails along side the Parks. Water buckets will have that tell tale crust of ice in the early mornings. Hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate this fall and temperatures will drop and things will freeze and then... yes... just maybe.. the snow will return! A girl can dream... can't she? Enjoy the rest of the summer... stay safe and make sure you have a solid evacuation plan in place!