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 > Winter sets in

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MORSNOW

Eagle River, AK

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Posted: 12/30/19 09:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Currently 40 degrees and rain in the forecast for the next 2 days, single digit temps by the weekend. So in one week we go from 10" of beautiful new snow, to rain, to single digits and solid ice on the side roads. South Central Alaska winters aren't what it was 10 years ago.


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lakeside013104

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Posted: 01/05/20 02:47pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Relatives in Healy said yesterday it was minus 25 F with high winds. The people and the game must be tough to withstand those temperatures.

Lakeside

PA12DRVR

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Posted: 01/06/20 09:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It's cooled off even in Los Anchorage area. The truck thermometer (FWIW) showed -11 at the house on Sunday a.m., -11 at Eagle River, and a cool -17 just north of Palmer.

Back in the old days (when winter was "normal"), I always used to figure that down to -20 was to be expected and, while not pleasant, just deal with it. -25, -30, -40 (or Purkeypile mine on frosty winter caribou hunt, -58) is just no fun and to be avoided if at all possible. My hat is off to the folks (troopers, linemen, wrecker drivers, and others) that just keep on going, regardless of the temps.


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lakeside013104

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Posted: 01/06/20 03:02pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

PA12DRVR wrote:

It's cooled off even in Los Anchorage area. The truck thermometer (FWIW) showed -11 at the house on Sunday a.m., -11 at Eagle River, and a cool -17 just north of Palmer.

Back in the old days (when winter was "normal"), I always used to figure that down to -20 was to be expected and, while not pleasant, just deal with it. -25, -30, -40 (or Purkeypile mine on frosty winter caribou hunt, -58) is just no fun and to be avoided if at all possible. My hat is off to the folks (troopers, linemen, wrecker drivers, and others) that just keep on going, regardless of the temps.


I cannot even imagine -58. It must be hard to perform any kind of work outside in those extreme temperatures?

20 plus years ago I saw -55 one winter morning here in Maine, but I stayed inside and the temps increased that day to above -20, thank the heavens.

Lakeside

Lakeside

PA12DRVR

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Posted: 01/06/20 03:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

On that caribou hunt, "back in the day" (of my long lost youth), two airplanes / 3 guys flew into a strip on the other side of the Alaska range and promptly landed on about a bazillion feet of fresh snow...had to swim out of the plane. At the time it was "only" about -10, but the most experienced guy said "Let's drain the oil, just in case". So, on the first day, the last 3 hours of daylight were spent compacting the space around the planes, draining the oil into buckets and carefully carrying it to the nearby quonset hut.

Good thing: it dropped to -35, then to circa -50 and stayed there for about 5 days. The quonset hut had good wood stove...good thing because at -50, it had become a survival expedition. The 3 of us spent those few days tromping down a packed "strip" for an eventual departure. After a while, lo and behold, it warmed up to -25...which was noticeably warmer after -50+. The tall young buck (me in those days) promptly starts roping the frost off the metal wings and sweeping it off the fabric wings while the experienced folks heat the oil on the wood stove, carry it carefully out, and even more carefully put it in the engine...some preheating, then all hands work to pop each airplane loose from the snow and back to los Anchorage just in time to call off the CAP.

Memorable event even after 40 years.

While I've avoided outside work as much as possible since then ([emoticon] ), at anything below -20, things are done very slowly, very carefully, and with much forethought. At -50, a mistake (presuming one's "out of town") is probably deadly.

lakeside013104

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Posted: 01/07/20 03:52am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

PA12DRVR wrote:

On that caribou hunt, "back in the day" (of my long lost youth), two airplanes / 3 guys flew into a strip on the other side of the Alaska range and promptly landed on about a bazillion feet of fresh snow...had to swim out of the plane. At the time it was "only" about -10, but the most experienced guy said "Let's drain the oil, just in case". So, on the first day, the last 3 hours of daylight were spent compacting the space around the planes, draining the oil into buckets and carefully carrying it to the nearby quonset hut.

Good thing: it dropped to -35, then to circa -50 and stayed there for about 5 days. The quonset hut had good wood stove...good thing because at -50, it had become a survival expedition. The 3 of us spent those few days tromping down a packed "strip" for an eventual departure. After a while, lo and behold, it warmed up to -25...which was noticeably warmer after -50+. The tall young buck (me in those days) promptly starts roping the frost off the metal wings and sweeping it off the fabric wings while the experienced folks heat the oil on the wood stove, carry it carefully out, and even more carefully put it in the engine...some preheating, then all hands work to pop each airplane loose from the snow and back to los Anchorage just in time to call off the CAP.

Memorable event even after 40 years.

While I've avoided outside work as much as possible since then ([emoticon] ), at anything below -20, things are done very slowly, very carefully, and with much forethought. At -50, a mistake (presuming one's "out of town") is probably deadly.


Very interesting story. Thank you for sharing......
You did not mention if any caribou were taken, so was that part of the story or was it too cold to go hunting?

Lakeside

PA12DRVR

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Posted: 01/07/20 10:19am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Re: Caribou hunt

No animals taken on that hunt:
- It was too cold for there to be much movement, so limited opportunities in any case;
- For the few days that we were strategically staying put (vs. trying for fire up and fly back to Los Anchorage), the prime objective was to ensure the woodbox was full, that the woodstove was either freshly stoked or cleaned of ash and then fired up, and that the snowmelt buckets were full and placed on the woodstove.
- After doing all that, given the time of year, we had about 3 maybe 4 at the most hours of daylight; the hunting involved heading out on snowshoes, so by the time one builds in a safety margin (to ensure return before dark) and when one travels carefully at -40 to nearly -60 (carefully = slowly), one doesn't cover much ground. The quonset hut was on the end of a narrow lake, with two small valleys on either side: We covered those valleys, but not much more over the 4-5 days we went out....simply saw no 'bou.

...and even though we degreased and graphited our firearms (using 70's technology), I suspect its debatable if they'd have fired properly even if we found something to shoot at. We did shoot quite a few ptarmigan nearby with the old exposed hammer(s) side-by-side shotgun that the guy kept at the hut.

lakeside013104

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Posted: 01/07/20 03:49pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

PA12DRVR wrote:

Re: Caribou hunt

No animals taken on that hunt:
- It was too cold for there to be much movement, so limited opportunities in any case;
- For the few days that we were strategically staying put (vs. trying for fire up and fly back to Los Anchorage), the prime objective was to ensure the woodbox was full, that the woodstove was either freshly stoked or cleaned of ash and then fired up, and that the snowmelt buckets were full and placed on the woodstove.
- After doing all that, given the time of year, we had about 3 maybe 4 at the most hours of daylight; the hunting involved heading out on snowshoes, so by the time one builds in a safety margin (to ensure return before dark) and when one travels carefully at -40 to nearly -60 (carefully = slowly), one doesn't cover much ground. The quonset hut was on the end of a narrow lake, with two small valleys on either side: We covered those valleys, but not much more over the 4-5 days we went out....simply saw no 'bou.

...and even though we degreased and graphited our firearms (using 70's technology), I suspect its debatable if they'd have fired properly even if we found something to shoot at. We did shoot quite a few ptarmigan nearby with the old exposed hammer(s) side-by-side shotgun that the guy kept at the hut.


Very interesting to hear about your experience in those cold temperatures and the importance of keeping the wood stove fired up.

Lakeside

PA12DRVR

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Posted: 01/07/20 05:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"...your experience in those cold temperatures..."

Having added 40 years since that trip, I simply wouldn't go out into the wilds again if there was even a hint that it would get colder than -20 or so. While going out in -15 (to pick a number) means be prudent and prepared for the unexpected further 20 degree drop, for me, I just won't go out if the forecast is "-15, with an Arctic Mass moving in over the weekend driving temperatures much lower" (made-up example of course).

It ain't worth the risk anymore.

lakeside013104

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Posted: 01/07/20 05:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

PA12DRVR.....'It ain't worth the risk anymore.'

I hear you. With age usually comes wisdom gained from life experience.
The only issue, being smart enough to pay attention to our 'gut feelings'.

I used to cut hardwood trees down at 20 below zero or run miles on a snow sled in sub zero temperatures and think nothing of it. Now-a-days I just put more hardwood onto the fire and let the younger crowd fight the cold.

Wisdom, maybe!

Lakeside

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