A few weeks ago Jack and I went north on the Steese Highway to camp for a few days. When we got there it was a normal clear day but dense smoke rolled in later in the weekend and luckily we were on our way out. The road we were on, US Creek Road, gave us a good view of the hillside and one fire. A helicopter was scoping it out but you can’t see it very well in the photos. Later the road was closed by BLM. There’s a couple of Jack fishing shots too. The grayling weren’t biting but I think Jack could’ve kept trying for hours….well he did actually. To view them at the correct size, click on the top one and scroll to the right.
It was a beautiful day when we drove in.
You often have things all to yourself in the White Mountains.
In the next photo you’ll see a forest fire on this hillside.
Forest fire, courtesy of a lightning strike the night before.
After a night of thunderstorms several fires had been set by lightning, and as we found out later, similar had happened all over Alaska.
US Creek Road is on the right.
This is a previously burned area in front of a smoky hillside.
Here’s Jack fishing for grayling with smoke in the background.
Arctic Grayling have a large blue spotted fin on top which Jack snapped a good shot of with his phone.
Right now the smoke comes and goes on an almost daily basis from the tons of wild fires around us. We’ve had some really bad days but it can change in an hour and blow out and be clear for a while. And it hasn’t been too hot so that helps.
Here are a few photos of past smoky days in Alaska.
(If you haven’t seen the forest fire photos Jack took back in 2004 on the Dalton Highway, click here.)
Click on the first one and scroll to the right for the best viewing.
This is a repost from some time ago but it really shows how bad it can get.
Springhill Suites on the Chena River
The smoke can create some beautiful visions, but it’s still terrible.
I remember walking out of a building and being confused about this huge dark cloud, but I soon realized it was a tendril of dense smoke moving over Fairbanks.
This was in 2009 during a really smoky August. So much ash it covered all surfaces and didn’t help my garden at all.
No problem looking into the sun when there’s dense smoke between you and it.
One night I looked up to see a pink sky.
And another night I looked up to see an orange sky.
72 is bearable, but when it gets into the 80s buildings heat up and you have to choose between a hot stuffy house and breathing the smoke, and sometimes you get both.
And this is the reflection of the sun on my ash-covered car.
Here’s a satellite image of Alaska from several days ago, June 22nd. The clouds are white and fluffy; the gray underneath them is smoke from wildfires. You can actually download a large image on the NASA website and zoom way in. It’s amazing really, how beautiful Alaska is, regardless of what hell it’s putting us through. Here’s the link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=86098&src=fb
Here’s what a wildfire looks like from an airplane. Fascinating. Thanks for the photo Joe Kemp.
The image on the right shows how many fires there were in interior Alaska as of about 6 days ago. The one the left shows how many there are now. The reason? Lightning strikes. At least one fire has destroyed homes and the smoke is creating a major health hazard.
Neither Jack nor I have seen these lampreys (thank goodness) but lately they’ve been found in strange locations like parking lots and front lawns. They spawn at this time of year in the local rivers and Alaska Fish & Game says most likely they are being dropped by seagulls who can’t manage to hold the wiggling creatures. Terrifying, that’s all I have to say about it!
In case anyone is interested, here is an image showing how many wildfires are burning in interior and south central Alaska. The two down by Anchorage are wreaking havoc and there are a bunch around Delta. Here is the website where you can get up to date info about this: http://smoke.arsc.edu/current_fires.html