As I write this it is -34F at my house outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. In town it is -42, and over in the community of North Pole it is -45. This morning they had -47 at 10am. The Fairbanks Daily Newsminer had an article about the cold overnight lows with some pictures showing lows down to -60 in some areas. The frigid weather is supposed to start warming up slowly tomorrow then snow in the middle of the week before heading back down to -30. Hopefully it will be warm enough on Thursday for the kids ski lessons. The cut off is -4. Last week was -2 at the start, but dropped to -8 when we left an hour and half later.



Even by Alaska’s unreliable standards, the weather forecasts have been very poor this winter. Usually they are fairly good about 3 days out, but they can’t even get it right for the same day lately. They keep changing it, sometimes several times in an hour. (yes, I kind of obsess over things like that). Anyway, tonight’s forecast for Friday really is a head scratcher on Weather Underground.

Mostly cloudy. Fog early. High of 10F. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of snow 20%. Overcast with a chance of snow and rain showers in the evening, then partly cloudy. Fog overnight. Low of -6F. Winds less than 5 mph.

If the high is only supposed to be 10 and it’s supposed to go below zero, how in the world is it supposed to rain? Temperatures need to at least be near freezing (32F) for that to happen. Yes, it does sometimes rain in the middle of the winter here in interior Alaska, but not when it’s near zero all week. Now the possible rain on Sunday with expected temperatures rising from the upper teens to high 20’s makes more sense. If that happens, I’m not looking forward to driving Monday or Tuesday. Luckily, since I’m the boss right now, I can give myself the day off if necessary and put everyone else on minimal schedule so they can stay off the roads as much as possible.

Seventy oops

The temperature has been pretty cold the past few days. We live in the hills above Fairbanks where it’s usually a little warmer in the winter and cooler in summer. Still, it was -25F up here last night (-35 in town).

Part of replacing the kitchen floor was removing the old radiators. My husband wants to replace them with under floor radiant heat, but hasn’t had a chance to yet. As a result, there is NO heat in the front quarter of the house. Even with the furnace on, the kitchen and living room was down to low 60’s. I made a fires in the woodstove which brought the temperature up nicely in the day.

I chopped more wood and got another fire going late this morning. By early-afternoon the temperature in the kitchen was a comfortable upper 60’s. I decided to make a turkey breast that’s been in the freezer too long for dinner. It cooks at 375. I thawed it gently in a pot of water on the wood stove for a few hours before turning on the oven.

Well, I didn’t take the oven into consideration last time I put wood on the fire. My son just checked to temperature in the kitchen and said it’s “seventy-oops”, aka 77! OOPS indeed.

Misc updates

We’ve been busy lately with projects. Right now they’re at the hardware store getting parts and picking up the boxes of flooring from Floorcraft. Soon the new floor will be in the house, even if it’s not properly installed yet. I’m excited!

The only thing left for me to pick out are the table legs and that’s because it wasn’t until today that hubby decided we were replacing them. Now you know where I’ll be tomorrow. Hmmm, can I sneak in new cabinet handles while I’m there? Probably not.

The kitchen is now in the living room except the stove and table top, which will be removed Wednesday. Yesterday we moved the sink counter and cabinets. I did the dishes in the bath tub last night and expect to do so again for the rest of the week. Today the guys finished removing the old flooring and started bracing the weak spots. Tomorrow they should finish that. Since we have the refrigerator out, we will paint the wall behind it. We also want to insulate the wall behind where the sink cabinets were since that’s always cool in the winter. The installer will be here Thursday and Friday. We still haven’t decided on replacing the counter tops or not.

When we removed the cabinets last night we found a few forgotten treasures. There was a huge wrench (probably for working on the drain pipes), a jar of silver polish, a very old lid, a plastic bib from McDonalds, and a paper bag from Pay & Save (which went out of business about 20 years ago!).

Richard earned his soccer table today! We don’t have the proper ball for it though, but one we have works. Right now it’s in the kitchen, but will be moved to his bedroom later. Not sure what his next reward will be, probably lessons of some sort.

I tried to make butter from the cream in my jar yesterday but I must have too much milk in it because it didn’t work. Oh well, it will still be great for mashed potatoes and hot chocolate. I’ll have to be more careful when skimming to get just cream.

We had a large dump of snow at our house. In town they didn’t get as much. Now the skies have cleared and the temperature has dropped like a rock. It’s -14F here now and still getting colder. It’s not supposed to get above zero all week. That’s pretty typical of this time of year: a big snowfall followed by a big cold air mass.

Winter Fun

Yesterday was the last day of our nice weather. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. We took advantage of it. Since there was still no snow on the ground, we went sliding on a couple of ponds. The ice was 4-6 inches thick. This was Karen’s first time. She was pretty unsure of the idea at first, especially when the ice started creaking and cracking. Everyone had fun sipping, sliding and falling.

There were also several methane bubbles trapped in the ice. Growing up, my husband used to “play” with these bubbles by chopping a small hole then quickly igniting it into a fountain of fire out of the ice. You never knew ice could burn did you? Anyway, we brought a propane torch and lit several of the bubbles. Most of them made small flames less than a foot tall. However, one was a fairly large gas bubble and it shot up about 4 feet tall. They all lasted less than a minute.

Also, we ran out of heating oil sometime Friday night so we’ve been heating with firewood again. I’m having to do all the work though because of my husband’s neck. Oh well. It’s good exercise. I split and the kids haul it inside. They won’t be able to haul it when we start using the one downstairs, but for now we’re just using the little stove upstairs. The wood pile is fairly good wood that’s easy to split. There are more downed trees to be cut up still out in our woods. It will be a relief to get them gone before forest fire season next summer. Our maintenance man seems to like doing it so I may ask him to spend some time building up my woodpile better.

Today it started snowing. The roads are a mess but the kids are loving it. They are able to go sledding on our new back driveway toward the house. Between hauling firewood and sledding, they’ve spent most of their free time outside today.

A new color: white

Last night we were introduced to a new color: white. I don’t mean we studied white for kindergarten homeschool. No, I mean white as in snow. That’s right, we are having our first snow of the year. It is a week earlier than last year.

It started yesterday late morning with rain/snow mixed then turned to snow overnight. This morning we awoke to about an inch of snow on our porch and in the woods with more still falling. I let the kids take a break from their schoolwork to play outside. They had fun making snowballs. Richard also rode his bike.

It’s letting up now and expected to quit by noon. Nothing is sticking to the roads so driving is still good. They are wet but not icy. Temperatures are around freezing with highs supposed to be near 40 so I don’t expect this snow to stick around very long.

More snow is in the forecast starting Friday through the weekend. The organizational meeting for this winter’s junior dog mushers is Saturday.

Warmer weather is good, right?

It’s over! We made it! That’s right folks, the frigid cold has moved on after nearly 2 weeks at -40 or colder. Clouds finally moved in and it started warming up yesterday afternoon. Today is zero. Heat wave! Tomorrow is supposed to be 20 ABOVE and the next day may even be above freezing. Wow! That’s at least 85 degrees (or more depending upon where you are) warmer than just a couple of days ago.

Warmer weather is good, right? It’s not as dangerous to do stuff outside. You can stay outside longer. Everything won’t freeze like pipes, cars, and anything else that’s supposed to be liquid if it’s properly insulated. Well, not exactly. It is when the temperature warms back up we have problems. For instance. We have a building with a broken well pump (frozen?) and another with heat pipe problems. Both these happened last night or this morning. As the temperature warms back up, frost can build up and cause things to freeze that were working even though it was colder. The frost also builds up on the roads, turning driving into ice skating on wheels. Ugh.

The good thing is that kids will probably be able to have their dog sled races on Saturday afternoon.