It’s interesting to experience our first complete winter here. Today’s paper writes that Extreme Cold Slams The State. Even though Alaska is cold in winter, this is unusual. Juneau’s typical winter day has a low in the 20’s, and a high in the 30’s. Right now I think the last time the mercury rose above freezing was almost a month ago. And January’s average quota of snow is already on the ground.
Our neighborhood streets were cleared yesterday – it was impressive. 2 big dump trucks hovering around ready to remove the snow piled up by a huge tractor/snow plough. A giant snow blower then sucked up and spat out the white stuff into the dump trucks. Oh yes, and two tow trucks cruised around removing cars whose owners hadn’t paid attention to the NO PARKING signs placed atop the berms that had accumulated along the streets and on the sidewalks. By days end, the sidewalks were cleared and the berms all gone. The dump trucks hauled the snow to the edge of the channel where a tractor spent the day pushing it on to the beach to wash away. There’s some concern about the environmental consequences of this means of disposal, but for now there ain’t nowhere else to put it.
So we wear our long johns and many layers, grateful to have a small and well insulated house, and thankful to put on boots with StableIcers and go on foot pretty much wherever we want for whatever we may need. The winter beauty of this place is impressive. Yesterday was the only day so far I deemed it to cold to go for the usual hour-long dog walk. Too cold for them, of course, not for me….
I have to wonder, though, if this is an offshoot of global climate change. And since we use oil to heat ourselves with, what happens when that runs out? Thankfully Juneau’s electricity production is hydro, while geothermal and tidal options are potentially feasible. Plans are underway to heat a new airport expansion using geothermal power.