Saturday, August 13, 2005
Into the soup
It occurred to me that if I can show pictures of London on this blog, why not Fairbanks? Fairbanks is a place, too, and there are things here. So here's a picture of the Fairbanks I returned to, a town buried in the smoke of forest fires. There are fires all around us, and no matter what direction the wind blows, we're in the way.
How many fires? There are currently 111 wildfires in Alaska, according to yesterday's News-Miner, most of them burning between the Alaska Range and the Brooks Range. That is, in Interior Alaska, an area large enough to fit several of your average states, in the middle of which sits Fairbanks. Historically, a million acres of Alaskan forest go up in flames every year. This year, over 2.4 million acres have already burned.
Also, according to the paper, we are in the middle of a heat wave, with record-breaking highs in the 80s (they should be in the 60s in August). And it's dry. August is normally our wettest month (with December our driest) But month to date precipitation is only 0.07 inches out of a normal month to date amount of 0.66.
But I'm not complaining, at least not out loud because Fairbanksans I've talked to about the smoke all say, "Of course it's nowhere near as bad as last year." And that's true. Last summer a record 6 million acres burned, and the smoke covered the town like a brown blanket, causing health hazards and misery. I should know, I skipped it. That is, I spent last summer in Seattle, sunny, ocean-breezy Seattle.