For Al Jazeera America: Alaska, known for cold and snow, is on thin ice


A few weeks ago, as champion musher Martin Buser prepped for the 1,000-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race across Alaska, ugly images from last year’s trail kept flashing in his head. In the old days, a bad trail meant lots of drifting snow. But last year was just the opposite: miles of open, snowless ground, fraught with hazards. It was the worst he has seen in decades of running dogs.

“Glare ice, stumps, roots, rocks and tussocks,” Buser said. “There was so much carnage out there, musher- and sledwise.”

As temperatures dropped and snow climbed to record heights in East Coast cities like Boston, many parts of Alaska this winter warmed to record highs for the second winter in a row, and rain fell instead of snow, putting a major damper on the state’s normally robust wintertime recreation culture.

Luckily for Buser, the Iditarod, which usually begins outside Anchorage, was moved north to start in Fairbanks because of the lack of snow. The trail was rerouted. The winner, Dallas Seavey, crossed the finish line on Wednesday morning with 68 mushers, including Buser, behind him. Trail conditions this year have been snowy and very cold.

The same can’t be said elsewhere in the state. Read more here.

With photos by Katie Orlinsky.

Today is the first day of spring, and the Weather Service just put out this report, further underscoring the heat up here.

And, bonus: my favorite tweet from the slushy Iditarod start.

Posted by

Julia O’Malley is a journalist who lives in Anchorage. She writes about culture, family, home, the environment and food in Alaska.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s