Yes, it’s very warm outside today and is forecast to be the same or warmer tomorrow. However, we’ve had warm March temperatures in the past, and still held the Sonot Kkaazoot as it has been for 31 years.
In 2015, March was very warm like this spring and the Sonot Kkaazoot took place on March 28 that year—five days later than this year.
Although the Chena River is not looking particularly solid for safe skiing, we have held the Sonot Kkaazoot on the traditional course starting and finishing on the Chena River for the past eight years (2011 to 2018). Before that, we had three consecutive years of alternate Sonot Kkaazoot courses, two years all at Birch Hill (2008 and 2009) and one year all on the Chena River (2010) to balance things out.
Sonot Kkaazoot skiers have to be flexible at times and ski whatever conditions and courses Mother Nature tosses our way. However, spring skiing in Fairbanks is always a special treat.
Tom Helmers, head groomer for the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, reported at 2:30 a.m. that the temperature at the Fort Wainwright alpine lodge is 62 deg cooler than last year. Thus, there will be no water over the trail anywhere today.
Also, a truck is still stuck in the trail as it comes off the river. Here’s hoping that the owner doesn’t choose today to retrieve it.
See you at the start on the Chena River at the Cushman Street Bridge.
It isn’t just the selective memory of skiers and dog mushers, this is an unusually warm October. More importantly, the cumulative snowfall is well below the long-term averages for Fairbanks International Airport.
From Chris Swingley’s fantastic weather site (http://swingleydev.com/weather/local_weather.php), here’s a graphic showing how different this “winter” has been to date:
On “average” we’d have almost 6 inches of snow on the ground by 19 October, and thanks to our well-maintained and groomed trails at Birch Hill, we’d likely be skiing.
Temperatures are supposed to drop this week, however, we’ll still be on the “warm” side of normal (graphic from National Weather Service):
At least, the lows should be dropping back below freezing so the probability of retaining any snow we might get increases. We certainly hope to be skiing by the Ski Fest to be held at Birch Hill on Saturday, November 2. We’ll be there to sign-up skiers for the Sonot Kkaazoot at the lowest possible entry fees from 1 to 4 p.m. at Birch Hill Recreation Area.
The unseasonably warm October temperatures in much of Alaska are predicted to continue at least through the end of October. Although much of the government has been closed down for since 1 October, the National Weather Service, because of the “essential” nature of their work, has been issuing weather forecasts and warnings. Sadly, for cross country skiers, the forecasts aren’t encouraging. The figure below is today’s 8 to 14 day forecast, and you can see by the intense red over interior Alaska that any precipitation we’re likely to see, probably won’t be in the solid form.
Although you can stone grind and wax your skis in anticipation of the upcoming ski season, you probably should plan on dryland training for a couple of more weeks. If you can’t face ski walking, rollerskiing, or watching mold grow on your snow shovels, you could consider some ski-specific strength training that might help when winter finally comes to interior Alaska:
Remember that the Sonot Kkaazoot will be held a week later than normal because of Arctic Winter Games, so you’ll be less behind on your on-snow Sonot Kkaazoot preparation than you might have been.