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Hybrid Red/Blue Fox
Alaska 2012
  • Territory: Washington State, British Columbia, Alaska
  • Time: May - August, 4600 miles traveled
  • Vessel: "Teacup", Nordic Tug 37
  • Primary Activity: Cower under a rain shelter.

Copyright © 2012, P. Lutus. All rights reserved.   Message Page

Prior years:  Alaska 2002 | Alaska 2003 | Alaska 2004 | Alaska 2005 | Alaska 2006
Alaska 2007 | Alaska 2008 | Alaska 2009 | Alaska 2010 | Alaska 2011
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When describing a visit to Alaska, I guess it's natural to talk about the weather. Even though such conversations are normally time-fillers, recent weather has been a legitimate topic of conversation — while the lower 48 states experienced high heat and drought conditions, Alaska was ... wait for it ... much colder and wetter than usual. From the Alaska Dispatch, in an article about July's weather we read that "temperature in Alaska's largest city averaged 56.3 degrees for the month. That was only slightly warmer than 1971, the coldest July on record, which averaged 55.4 degrees." The mean Anchorage July temperature is 65 degrees, and temperatures often get into the 80s — but not this year: on just one day, the temperature hit a monthly high of 73 degrees.

But there's more — the preceding (2011-2012) winter saw colder than normal temperatures and the largest amount of Anchorage snowfall on record — exceeding 133 inches (11 feet/3.4 meters). Average Anchorage snowfall is 74.5 inches (6.2 feet/1.9 meters)

So it was a cold, wet summer in Alaska. I talked to a number of charter boat operators who said they had nearly no business and were suffering financially — one told me he was getting out of the business. The irony was that, at the same time, the lower 48 states were experiencing abnormally high temperatures and no rainfall.

While in the field doing photography, I saw far fewer bears than in years past. I have a number of theories about this, and one should be obvious — the low temperatures were reducing the amount of bear activity.

This year's articles reflect the weather conditions — I write more than the usual number of articles about topics other than wildlife encountered on warm, sunny days. For example, to see the June 5th Venus transit of the sun I set up a simple sun projector, moved it to the general store in Larsen Bay and let everyone have a look at this very rare astronomical event.

For a diversion on rainy days I packed my microscope and examined various water samples for signs of life (and saw plenty). I fully explored Lituya Bay, a scary place where unbelievably gigantic waves sometimes sweep everyone away. I describe all these things and more in the pages that follow.

Use the arrow keys and drop-down lists at the top and bottom of this page to navigate through this article set — I hope you enjoy them.

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