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By: joealaska , 9:37 PM GMT on February 24, 2012

Tomorrow morning we have 7 container vans to unload on our Friday vessel. The crew is going to be there in about 9 and a half hours. Right now it is a blizzard outside. Blowing snow and sleet that hurts when it hits your face, that blurs when it hits your lens. We tend to have interesting weather on Friday.

Internet is down right now. TV is still OK.

I wanted to post a lot of photos, but that is on hold for now.

This is a record book winter in Alaska. Record snow in Anchorage. Record cold in the interior. We do get breaks, usually spectacular. Yesterday, Wednesday, we had blinding snow during two periods in the morning. In between those storms we were blinded by the sun on that new snow. After the second storm it was full bore sun for most of the day, and immediate meltage.

The roads here, especially the rock roads, are in the worst shape ever. Superlative pot holes. The big heavy trucks have to creep along to avoid damage. They laid some rock down on Ballyhoo Road that was small boulders, baseball size or bigger (bear with me UK) that filled in the holes, but provided its own challenges.

After a few days, whether it was by compressing the boulders in the ground, or breaking them up with MY tires, the road is better. Better, but still not good. The BIG debate here is spend CONSTANT money on maintenance, or just pave.

(Internet is back UP)

The Chow Porch has been sold out the last few nights. Perhaps it is the new florescent lighting (AND new logo!), but I think it is more word of mouth. Twice there have been 4 in line to chow. A new participant is NOSEY. You will know him when you see his picture. Not sure if he was a victim of a fight, a trap, or just an accident. But he is a victim. His nose is injured, maybe even a bit bent...

But he is a repeat customer. He uses the fox butt block method (FBB for Arbie) to ward off other hungry vulpines as he chows. Just keeps his rear in the way of the others. NOSEY is aggressive in defending his food, but I saw a rare FOX FRACAS as he was away from the CHOW. Fox fighting, and last night I heard one loud BARK. Not sure who produced it.

Tonight, GNU and I had dinner on a big boat. Good food. I had heard of the storm coming in tonight, but it was just starting to blow when we left.


An hour later it was CRANKING. Only 35 mph wind, but that snow was sticky. 33 degrees at my place, but colder up top where it was coming from. I turned on my FAIRY LIGHTS (is late February too Tennessee??). And I also turned on the full porch lights. That is when I saw the fox head near my northern facing secondary chow porch.


The fox I saw was a small common brown colored fox, not sure if he was a regular. He was camped out in a snow drift. And it looked like he was prepared to be drifted over for protection. Maybe that was FOX WILEY WAY RULE #4. All I know he was in a swirling blizzard and just sitting there.

Half buried.

This was on the downwind side of my duplex, the protected side. The side now having a 2 foot funny shaped drift that was not there 2 hours ago. I opened up the back door a few inches, all I could do, as a snow drift was now blocking THAT. But I told him I would be back with food.


Then the wind started BLOWING, so I went to the southern facing porch. The main porch. I chose to call to the fox, asking him to come around the duplex. I whistled, and he was there in a second.


I put out some dog food right by my door. I fully expected the kibbles to be blown away, but no. And that fox SNOWFLAKE came right up to chow down. I was the least of his problems. He was coated in snow. And he ate a lot of food. I approved it as NO CHARGE.

Took a lot of pics and some film, but conditions were tough. Lots of blowing moisture. This is why I do not buy a $2000 camera.

The door was open as I was pelted with ice, but SNOWFLAKE was cool. FLASHES for FOOD. It was all agreed .

When I returned tonight from the boat dinner, I turned the Tahoe around to face outward. Just to have a running start to get out. The drive was clear at that point. Now I see a two foot drift right in front of the Tahoe.

You learn.

But the night is still young, and the terms will change.

It is Alaska.

Are there any questions?

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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15. iaotter
2:25 PM GMT on February 29, 2012
Iowa weather is being wierd too. Last night we had a booming thunderstorm and a downpour that melted almost all the snow piles. Only one or two left by the biggest parking areas. Now the wind is blowing like crazy up to 40 mph gusts and they are predicting rain, snow and sleet at various times through out the day and sometimes all of them at once. Can't decide if it is going to be winter or spring. Right at freezing now, but supposed to warm up to around 50F by this afternoon. The poor dog doesn't know if she should shed or grow more winter undercoat.

Happy Leap Day everyone! Enjoy your bonus day by doing at least one thing that is pure and frivolous fun.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
14. insideuk
1:24 PM GMT on February 28, 2012
Its interesting that hard paving the roads (or 'tarmacking' as its known here) is being considered as an alternative to regular boulder droppings. Last I heard Unalaska had about 38 miles of road, only 7 miles of which are paved.

Given that Unalaska has similar weather (when its not a record breaking winter...) to the west coast of Scotland, then I'd argue it may not actually end up CHEAPER or EASIER to pave, all things considered.

Scotland's roads are all tarmacked (with the exception of gravel 'tracks' – which are not designed with anything other than 4x4 vehicles and sheep in mind, and most of them can't drive). The routine rain and frost type conditions, combined with hair pin bends and heavy vehicles mean that Scotland sends out resurfacing teams to 'top dress' the hard tarmac surface with alarming frequency.

In fact they 'top dress' so often the roads literally grow higher every year, and this in itself creates a hazard to traffic. Many of those roads are single lane roads with frequent double width passing places, marked by posts. Whilst driving you have to remain constantly alert to where your last passing place was so that you might be able to reverse back down a narrow lane when faced with an oncoming vehicle (the one closest to the passing place is required to reverse unless you are in a nose to nose argument with a 44 ton truck – in which case YOU reverse whilst he holds up cards awarding your driving skills points out of 10).


The extra layers of tarmac mean that you are frequently facing a drop of at least 10 inches off the roadside. A normal (2 wheel drive) car has a job getting back out of that kind of rut. Most especially since the rut is almost certain to be filled with squidgy, sticky mud.

Plus a sheep or two.

Though they provide superior traction as a rule.

Then of course you need to take account of what happens to nice smooth paved surfaces when they freeze. Black ice provides the worst driving surface known to man.

Even women have been known to find it a bit of a bother.

At least with your gravel surfaced roads (during those short periods when you can see them beneath the snow) you can find some traction – the merest hint of frost on a smooth surfaced roadway as steep as the ones leading up to Joes place will provide the perfect toboggan run into Gnu's place.

I know there have been times on Haystack when rapid snow melt has caused waterfalls cascading down the road that has sluiced away the surface. But paved roads can be washed away too, if they don't have side kerb stone protection the water will simply wash away the subsurface. That leaves unsupported pavement just lying in wait for an unsuspecting wheel to drop by.

I've seen cars do the splits.

The truck drivers award extra points for that.

All in all, if you take into account the extra costs and risks involved, I suspect crushed baseballs are cheaper.

I recommend the slightly sturdier French petanque balls for really busy junctions.

Sheep are really only for emergencies.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
13. Rotty3
2:02 AM GMT on February 28, 2012
dotmom: methinks Joe got his bearings off a bit - he sent the chills to Florida over the weekend. Barely hit 50F and today dumped another 1+ inch rain. URGH. No snow, but lots of wet. Sigh. By Wednesday, should be at about 82F again.

But you're right NM could use some extra moisture. I'm happy to dry out for about 2 weeks again. Please Joe! You can let it rain after defense date lol.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
12. dotmom
10:12 PM GMT on February 26, 2012
Whatever/whereever you decide to send the snow Joe, forget KY - New Mexico would like some. They have drought conditions there and need moisture.

50 degrees out here today - beautiful. U of L pulled a close one out - winning by just a couple of points.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
11. Arbie
4:23 PM GMT on February 26, 2012
I love Joe's capture of the eagle snaring its catch. It is weird how something can be so elegant and brutal at the same time.

The foxes are so cute!

This is only my second winter in Unalaska, but it seems to me like February is the month for snow.

I guess Joe can get by going barefoot for a quick minute on the porch as long as he doesn't accidentally lock himself out.

February is our spring (SE Texas). It is warming up and the flowers are out.

We are trying to scare the racoons out of our attic with fox urine (wildlife rehabilitator's advice) until we get the roof fixed. Luckily they don't appear to be doing any damage. They come in now and then, run around a bit, admire the biggest hollow tree they have ever seen, then leave.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
10. dotmom
7:43 PM GMT on February 25, 2012
Joe - you really should be wearing shoes - or at least socks when you step out onto the chow porch in the snow! Was that rat dead or alive that the eagle went for in the video?
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9. insideuk
7:20 PM GMT on February 25, 2012
I've seen -18c and +18c within a couple of weeks.

It messes up my screenwash to water ratio REAL BAD.


I have a question.

When YOU go online and browse the $2000 camera sales pages – is that what makes the internet service collapse in Unalaska?

Try it. I'm pretty certain it's YOU causing the trubba. Since you are BARRED from canon.com for life on suspicion of wide angle cruelty in low light with your zoom. It's not just the camera suffering any more is it? Word gets around.

Save the excuses.


I have another question (before you get arrested).

If YOU browse around the $2000 giant flatscreen high definition TV webpages, does everyone in Unalaska notice the sudden PIXILATION MAXIMUS effect?

Thought so. Don't you know a 12 inch screen is the televisual load limit for a single person household in your zip code?

Resident cats don't count. And it is pointless trying to enlist the aid of the fox population to bump up your allowance, obviously full chow porch light voltage makes the TV signal crash. It's like you short circuit the entire hillside in some kind of self-defeating prophecy.

That new fluorescent signage has extra potential for major league (foreign teams excluded) trubba. It's already caused a hitherto unheard of fox fray fracas flurry (F4x - optical zoom) as the sudden surge of juice passed through the snow covered landscape.

It's YOU making the fox fur frizzy.

I've watched the Youtube clip.

Nosey is a VICTIM alright. He happened to be licking his chow off the porch at the time YOU flicked your light switch.

His schnoz got fried.

Suppose it could have been worse.

He could have looked up from his food and seen you at the window wearing nothing but fairy lights.

THAT would have been enough to put his nose out of joint. The mere reflection of that sight in the glass has finished off several small cameras.


Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
8. bbrenda
5:09 PM GMT on February 25, 2012
You may have trouble with this concept, but I miss snow. Here in Mass. we've had maybe, stretching it, a total of 4" this winter. Just constant 40's and 50's with rain every other day it seems like. It's very unusual and disconcerting. There's been some snow further north in ski country but not much. Today it's intermittently sunny with string winds from the south, ie no snow coming. Strange days.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7. DHaupt
9:24 AM GMT on February 25, 2012
Sunny California is weird in its way too -- too sunny! We have just had three days of full Spring weather -- mid to upper 70s. There is a very weak cold front coming through tonight with a few stragglers over the next several days. Isolated widely scattered spritzes are a possibility. Funny though, snow down to 2500 feet in parts of the Sierras -- not much snow, but at this time any snow is good. The most recent snow surveys show overall Sierra snow is 30% of normal for this date whereas it was 121% last year!

There is already a wildfire burning in Napa County. Actually, I don't think we will have a bad fire season here in mid-state because there won't be that much dead grass to burn. There is a little green showing, but in a normal year our hills look like the Emerald Isles by now. Everything depends on March

We have a lot of critters moving to town here as well. They are looking for food and water. We do put limited amounts of kittykrunchies out for a couple of kats who have lost their homes. We know that we are sharing them with coons and possums. It hasn't been a big problem

But, really, we have all moved into their homelands, generally crapped up the planet and stirred up the winds and waves. I think we owe them some opportunity to share in our largess. I was watching a program about the great brown bears of Kamchatka the other night. Commercial fishing and climate change is having a huge and deleterious impact on the returning stocks of salmon in the streams that the bears depend on for the bulk of their calorie needs prior to hibernation. Not enough salmon -- NO BEARS. So, at some point might we have to start manufacturing bear kibbles? Out of what? Fishmeal? No? How about garbage? We might even have to put it out on our porches to keep them from eating us. People over on the Peninsula are learning to live with mountain lions. They like their kibbles larger.
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6. osdianna
5:38 AM GMT on February 25, 2012
So did I miss the bit about the new camera you were buying for your trip, Joe? I missed quite a lot back in Dec-Jan with a hacker, then computer failure, new/refurbished one, then just lurking until now...Katy99780 from Tok, Ak. was here in town, didn't meet her but she took photos of a few of our local spots...can't believe the weather everywhere...weird, weird, weird, except for sunny Calif, right Dave? Temps in the 60's one day in Golden, Co., 8 inches of snow the next & 60 mph winds.

What brutal conditions in Dutch to work in; reading your local paper online...downright life-threatening.

Foxes are great...I'm glad you feed them when they need it most. Did you take that photo in the paper of the cat and fox? I e-mailed the editor and requested he post photo credits.

It being Friday night as I type this, unloading ship still in progress I'll bet. One tired pup too....or rather the whole work crew.

Stay safe.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
5. dotmom
2:19 AM GMT on February 25, 2012
Joe, I wish you had one of those waterproof blue suits like your forklift driver has. Some good boots too so you can walk in the deep, deep slush snow.

Watched The Boss tonight and saw American Seafood's CEO get down and dirty with the different crews. Thought we would see more of the fishing - but that's okay. Saw "The Spit" at the very end and thought I recognized the mountain across the bay from where American Seafoods is located there in Dutch. We taped it. That is good. We were questioning each other about different things - and Fran piped up and said - good thing we taped it. We can watch again.

Your weather sounds horrible. Hope that all melts. Those poor fox can't find food in this snow. Good you are feeding them.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
4. ladyhomer
11:53 PM GMT on February 24, 2012
Well I very well know what you're going through Joe as we have had blizzard after blizzard this year in Homer --unusual for us to have that many blizzards. I just checked the weather & looks like we have another on it's way from you guys suppose to get it late Saturday or Sunday oh boy button down the hatches!!!! We had to have a loader come in & push all of our snowbanks back so we have somewhere to put all the new snow driveways were getting pretty narrow. It's been awhile since we've seen a winter like this. We have had a couple weeks of reprieve tho some of our 5 feet of snow has melted & caused flooding & holes in our roads the road crew patch them but the tar doesn't stay in them for to long & it's back to losing your tires in the holes. I really enjoy all those "foxy" pictures take care & don't get lost in the blizzard!!!!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. iaotter
11:24 PM GMT on February 24, 2012
Looking forward to the fox photos. It must be tough being a fox in that cold wet snow.
We had our share last night, about 3 inches of it. Dog and I went out for a walk about 10 just to see what was happening. She loves snow. When she is free to run where she wants she will stay out for hours. If she is on her rope run, she dashes out to potty and then is back at the door almost faster than I can turn around.
The wet heavy snow last night made the world a white fairy land this morning until the wind and sun took over. Snow is melting fast and it is supposed to be up to 45-48F on Sunday, so it won't last long. We desperately need the moisture. Since the ground never froze very deep this year, the melt water soaks in rather than running off. That makes the farmers here abouts very happy.
Try to keep warm and dry and keep the Tahoe out of the snowdrifts and ditches.
Guess I will be third. Rotty got in before I got this finished.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
2. Rotty3
11:16 PM GMT on February 24, 2012
congrats cybersuze :)

Haven't been on for a while, catching a moment of "breathing" before diving again. Not much longer... I know.. whew... I'll be drifting in and out, not for chow, and not leaving 2 ft. remnants either. Just want to say, still here. Not blown away despite several tornado warning/watches lately.

Thank you all for the good thoughts, kind words and encouragement. Hopefully, by tax day it'll all be a distant memory (defense is 12 March, but then comes the re-writing based on what the committee wants changed - and they always wants some changes - which requires some more knuckling down work, but that'll really be the final stretch to the finish line). I'll try to at least come up for air once a week till then, but it might not work out.

So, don't worry about me for the next 2 weeks if you don't hear much, just keep fingers, toes 'n whatever crossed, just not your eyes while driving or taking pictures while steering a Tahoe over snow drifts with the left knee, balancing the frightened el cheapo camera in the right hand and steadying the pace w/ the right foot. All the while, the left hand will roll window down, up, down, up, down...

Hang in there Joe. The snow WILL melt. Maybe not in the next few days, but then, do you want it to melt fast? lol.

Looking forward to more vulpine pictures, semi-pixilated or not. :)
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1. cybersuze
9:42 PM GMT on February 24, 2012
Sounds like fun Joe! Can't believe I'm first up!
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