Satellite image of Alaska – smoke and clouds

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

Satellite image of Alaska 6-22-15

Here’s what a wildfire looks like from an airplane. Fascinating.  Thanks for the photo Joe Kemp.

Smoke from a wildfire, photo from Joe Kemp

 

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Current interior Alaska wildfires

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

Wildfires in Alaska as of June 19 2015

 

Engine on fire

A few years ago a truck engine spontaneously caught fire.  It was an electrical issue with the truck.  It had popped a breaker and when the breaker was flipped back, the fire started.  That’s what is thought to have happened.  In the photos you can only see smoke, and the Fairbanks Fire Department working to put it out.  We can imagine it was some seriously toxic smoke, as it is anytime a vehicle catches fire.  The Carlile employees including Jack moved the vehicles that were next to it immediately but couldn’t do anything about the fire.

(For those of you lucky souls who don’t have to deal with the cold temperatures, trucks and all vehicles are plugged in before driving to heat up the oil and anti-freeze.)

Click a photo to see it full size, then scroll through.

2004, the worst smokey year in Fairbanks history!

2004 was the worst summer for smoke in Fairbanks EVER, at least as far as we’re concerned!

The smoke hung around for over 3 weeks.  It was rough.  Here are before and after photos from that summer:

Forest fire smoke in Fairbanks, Alaska - July 2004

I shouldn’t have been out taking photos in this stuff!  This is the Chena River and the 2 buildings are the Key Bank building and the Springhill Suites Hotel.

Forest Fire smoke in Fairbanks, Alaska - July 2004

Here is another one showing Springhill Suites, which was at the time very new.

Luckily, the past few days have been pretty clear and now we’ve had a downpour or two, so things are looking up for those of us who want the fires to go away!

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Smoke & Heat in Fairbanks, Alaska

It’s been an interesting summer so far in interior Alaska.  First we had snow and low temperatures until mid-May, and then we had about 3 weeks of 80 and 90 degree weather.  When you live somewhere that is cold and dry for 8 or 9 months of the year any heat you can get is like charging some inner battery.  So let’s just say we have adequately charged our batteries…life was great…until the smoke rolled in!  Right now we have well over a hundred fires burning throughout Alaska, some small and some large, some being fought near towns and some being left alone to burn.

Forest Fires in Alaska - July 1, 2013The University of Alaska has a sensational website showing where fires are burning in Alaska. Here is a screen shot from it taken July 1st.  The website, UAFSMOKE: Wildfire Smoke Prediction for Alaska, is in it’s experimental phase but when finished should be able to tell us when smoke is going to reach a given area around Fairbanks.  This is when Jack and I shut all our windows and turn on the air filters, so we’d love to know ahead of time.  (Sometimes though, like the other day, its 80 degrees out and our house is baking with us trapped inside.)

One of the fires that is plaguing us is Skinny’s Road fire, the yellow dot that is close to the upper right of the word Alaska on the map.  It’s about 20 miles away from us and on the other side of the Parks Highway.  But any of the ones in that general area could be causing the our smoke problems right now.  The crazy thing is, you can go to bed with a heavy smokey haze outside and wake up to a bright clear day because wind patterns are changing so much.  So Jack and I are constantly sniffing the air to decide when to close or open the windows.

The smoke affects certain people more than others and Jack is not greatly affected.  He even went out and chainsawed some logs last weekend with the mosquitoes and haze surrounding him.  A day off is a day off and you have to get something done.  But I have to stay inside because I feel a heaviness in my chest when the smoke gets bad, and if I breathe it in too long my sinuses and allergies act up too.  People with asthma and respiratory problems like COPD are in big trouble if they don’t get into a safer environment.  Just about everyone gets a headache if out in it for too long.

All in all, here at our house Jack and I have had only about 48 hours of dense dangerous smoke, so we are beyond thankful for that, considering how many are burning around us as you can see from the map.  Below is a photo from June 21st, 2010, late in the evening under the midnight sun during Solstice, looking southward down from a turnout on the Parks Highway onto the Tanana Valley where a fire smolders (on the left in the photo) and sends its wispy smoke westward (to the right). Click it for a larger image.

Forest fire in the Tanana Valley

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July!

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More Dalton Highway Wildfire Photos

Truck Driving through Wildfire Smoke - Dalton Highway, Alaska 2004

In the last post I described the terrible forest fires of 2004.

Here are more photos that Jack took that year.  Don’t forget you have to click on them to see them at their proper size.

Scary!

Smoke on the Dalton HighwayFire spreading across the tundra

Fire on the Dalton Highway

Forest Fire in the Distance

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

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Trucking Through Fires 2004

I just wanted to share with you this amazing photo Jack took in 2004 when wildfires were raging on the Dalton Highway.  Trucks were still moving through but the air quality for drivers was terrible.  Smoke combined with dusty dry conditions.  This was a non-digital photo that I scanned and ran some enhancing on, to a surprisingly interesting effect.

The Alaska West truck has just driven out of heavy smoke and has a substantial dust trail (click photo to enlarge to proper size).  Windy dry conditions exacerbated the fire intensity and level of destruction.

Truck Driving through Wildfire Smoke - Dalton Highway, Alaska 2004

Wikipedia says about the 2004 Alaska fire season:

The 2004 Alaska fire season was the worst on record in terms of area burned by wildfires in the U.S. state of Alaska.[1] Though fewer individual fires formed than in 1989 when almost 1,000 were recorded, more than 6,600,000 acres (27,000 km2) were burned by the approximately 700 fires that ignited. The largest of these fires was the Taylor Complex Fire, which encompassed 1,700,000 acres (6,900 km2) and was the largest fire in the United States from 1997 to 2007.[2] The Boundary Fire, Wolf Creek Fire, Chatanika Fire, and a fire that enveloped the Trans-Alaska Pipeline also received notable attention from firefighting services and the media. All together 426 fires were started by humans and 215 were started by lightning.

Map from Wikipedia:

Map of Alaska Wildfires 2004

You can see how at least one fire burned right over the Dalton.  Even Jack thinks it was a little scary to drive through these fires.  You really can’t see the road but for a few feet… he says the drivers call it “driving by Braille”.  🙂

Thanks for reading!  More wildfire photos to come.

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