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Cold Snap: Ice Fog in Arctic Winter

58 comments


I was out in my -45F weather today going through hills and ice fogs, and just being amazed at what another world the ice world is. I thought instead of filling up the garden photos with it, I’d compile it all right here. The fog itself doesn’t reach my home. I am up on the hill enough to be above it. This one of the reason there are plastic bubble over the mulched bushes and snow piles on all the beds….lol.

This is all through the night which starts here around 3:30 and goes through 10:30 in the day. All -45F in the fog, the cold keeps the air from moving so this is really smoke and such remnants that can’t air out. Bad air quality, I’ve an asthmatic friend that can barely function when it gets like this sometimes. It is such an otherworldly environment all silenced and amplified with deep temperatures.

I went up into the hills over the valley. The hills always enjoy higher temperatures than the valley generally, just remember that the north side of all the hills will see no sun some places up to 4 months. A hard chill like this can linger there. Spring will be late. From the hills the Ice fog is like lakes filling all the valleys.

On the sunny side the sun is an eerie faded thing fuzzed out through the haze of frozen air. Bright to look at, but the light shed is filtered and spread. There is such a strange silence about the cold like this. Even a loud sound is battered and stretched when it reaches your ears. The fog lays thick across the valleys, impenetrable.

Down at the river level, along the Tanana, it is a arctic wasteland. The fog lays thick across the ground and ice shrouds every trace of life. Birch and Poplar stand stark against the ice while willow pokes through the snow still holding its fall leaves. There is no wind, just a cold fog shifting about. I particularly love this sequence. I found such a yellow color in the river fog that the desert value seemed to come up sharp. And in the poplar a familiar cool blue I’m starting to credit to the tree itself.

The journey home showed more dry icy wilderness in golden sun. Or soft and cool evening shades showing the moon.

I had the sun right at the end of the drive, on top of the hill. Really wonderful ice wilderness out there. I don’t mind the cold enough, and I’m always amazed every year what comes through this year after year, unscathed.

The birch and spruce always show the best face against these odds. I hope that anyone who looks enjoys a glance at ‘the cold snap’ in an interior alaskan winter. A arctic desert to be sure. This gives a little idea of what kind of conditions might be encountered here and hopefully show the beauty of the earth even in this.

More blog posts by greenthumb

Next post: What I Do, Since I Can't Do It Outside.



Comments

 

Amazing GT~ I am surprised anything survives and it is surprisingly beautiful!
Thank you for putting the photos on!

4 Jan, 2009

 

Great blog GT. Wonderful photos. It is a still, beautiful, frozen world up there isn't it?

4 Jan, 2009

 

These are stunning photo's Greenthumbs. What you describe has made a big impression on me and I am slowly starting to understand the impact of COLD. What happens to the infrastructure? Do any electricity wires snap? Do phonelines still work?How do waterpipes behave? I love the low sun, the light effect is wonderful. Thanks for sharing this very different world, it truly is amazing. Keep warm!

4 Jan, 2009

 

It's really beautiful in a way, especially the photos of the sun. But It looks a very harsh place too. Thanks for showing these pics.

4 Jan, 2009

 

A lovely tour to look at with the woodburner stoked up.
Have you noticed any difference over the past years with "global warming"?

4 Jan, 2009

 

I enjoyed your car ride, although it looks nice, i would hate to live where it is so cold, when it gets past -1 over here i'm moaning, we have just had a week or so of the temp dropping to about -6 in the night & only about 1-2 in the day, which is unusual where i live in the uk, as i live right on the coast.

4 Jan, 2009

 

Fascinating stuff Greenthumb and lovely pics. I really cannot imagine what is is like being in those temperatures. I'm with Clarice, -1 is too cold for me. How on earth do you keep warm - outdoors and indoors?

4 Jan, 2009

 

Greenthumb, fantastic pics and insight into your homeland. I cannot imagine how it all still functions in such harsh conditions. Spectacular views must make it bearable! Not for me however, I sulk the moment we approach zero!

4 Jan, 2009

 

Greenthumb...absolutely stunning photography,amd thankyou again for the journey.Really enjoyed it !

4 Jan, 2009

 

Brilliant photos. Thank you for sharing.

4 Jan, 2009

 

Those photos are absolutely wonderful....the sun creates so much interest in many of them. Thanks for sharing your world and educating us a bit more....

4 Jan, 2009

 

Wonderfull Blog GT, Ive read it With Amazement, If we had those temeratures our Country would Literally Stand Still, We could not cope with it and im intrigued to know how you get through day to day life with such extreme temperatures and the Darkness!!.... Great Pics by the way, Do you have special Camera's, Im sorry to ask such stupid questions, but i am Fascinated.. Dee..

4 Jan, 2009

 

GREAT blog and photos greenthumb. The next time we go down to -5 F I promise not to complain :)

4 Jan, 2009

 

I give everyone the right to moan about the cold all they want! :-) I'm chilliest in the damp cool of 40-10 F, those subzero celsius. I'm glad to share this carzy ive world. This is my lowest temps ever in living hrer almost 10 years. We had Aurora Borealis as well. but the camera didn't catach the light, I've a smudged black pic I coudl share....lol. By the YDD, I am using a little fuji Z20, does well unless its too dark. The fog is really just like this. :-) Most of us just go on with our regular lives, everyone has plug ins and heaters installed in the car engines. We carry cold kits, warm clothes and boots in the cars for emergencies. Many are still out doing their morning jogs and such. Its really amazing. There is a lot of frozen pipes during this, and people burn their houses down overstoking unmaintained woodstoves but all in all no major calamities. We have developed infrastructure that needs little maintanence during this. Everyone is staying in a much as possible. Although, I cannot, I have to share pics. :-) Still -60F nights.

Thanks so much for all the comments, I love to get to share this unseen wolrd with you all.

5 Jan, 2009

 

~How long before it starts to warm up GT?Morning jogs!!! you must be a tough lot!

5 Jan, 2009

 

I can just see the headlines of the local newspaper... MAN FOUND FROZEN IN JOGGING POSITION !
We'll find out who it is when he thaws out in the spring.
Do you wear battery operated heated clothes while out on these jogs ? :) Glad to hear everyone takes precautions.

5 Jan, 2009

 

GT, Thanks for sharing these pictures and info. on how you cope with these conditions. It's amazing.

5 Jan, 2009

 

Wow Greenthumb, what amazing pictures. Its been zero degrees here today and sooo cold to me. You must be so hot blooded. I think I would have frozen solid in those temperatures

5 Jan, 2009

 

Greenthumb it is just like a very interesting Geography lesson, your photographs are amazing and fascinating, I have gained more on this site than I did at school, I look forward to your next blog..............I hate the fog I dont mind the cold as long as I am inside by the fire lol

5 Jan, 2009

 

Boy, could I have spelled worse on my last entry! lol. We had a jogger on the front page of the paper this year. Last year, a biker...lol. Just a hat, neck sock and sweats, though we know to wear synthetics or wool so we don't chill in our sweat, you do get hot and sweat out there. Burns more calaries! :-) I used to bike to town when I lived closer, my eyes would try freezing closed with frost sometimes. It was an experience!

We should be seeing above zero early as feb but the ice doesn't break until end of April. I'm thinking with my cold framing, I can get seed out that early this year! I just can't wait! I don't know when this deep freeze will end. Still -60 nights, no forecast for a change.

6 Jan, 2009

 

~ I reckon the cold got to you GT~stoke up on hot food etc and put on an extra layer!
I'm glad the temperatures will rise soon although I suppose nothing is guaranteed these days!

6 Jan, 2009

 

Great insight into Arctic the conditions GT....
-2 celsius at 1pm in Hampshire today, I guess you'd regard that as sub-tropical.
For the winter months I think you should consider changing your username from Greenthumb to Bluefingers

6 Jan, 2009

 

Fabulous Blog! I had goosebumps and shivers all the way through.

6 Jan, 2009

 

And theres me moaning about a bit of frost.

6 Jan, 2009

 

Truly amazing, fascinating and I moan at our slight chill, the thing is we are not prepared enough for the cold weather, you are - we only get cold like this once every few years, you get snow also, we haven't had much at all, wish we had I love snow, don't like the mess it leaves when it thaws, but love the scenery around and about when it is fresh and clean. Beautiful pictures and very educational, will show my better half and that will cheer him up when he sees what you have to put up with. Keep warm and roll on the thaw.

6 Jan, 2009

 

Lol, thanks for the comments. I'm glad to share such a 'pleasure' with everyone....lol. I think the cold is getting to me...lol. I like bluefingers, but up here that really means you need to go have the fingers removed....lol. Still no change in our weather though we might see -20 this weekend!

6 Jan, 2009

 

Just fetched my daughter home off her work shift and the temperature is picking up not as cold as last night but thank goodness nowhere near as cold as yours - Goodnight keep warm

6 Jan, 2009

 

-20 now that is really cold, good luck.

6 Jan, 2009

 

Great blog, blimey i thought we were cold,
Lovely photo's so nice to see what others have to cope with.
make us realise how lucky we are with our temp's, thanks for all the great pic's

7 Jan, 2009

 

beautiful photos, Alaska blimey we goys get around don't we?

7 Jan, 2009

 

I've tried recruiting...lol. I'm glad you've enjoyed the blog. It is exotic here in the interior alaska winter I think. It's starting to wear on me, still -60 to -40 every day, but it is beautiful. Always feels like a dream afterwards. Just so otherworldly.

7 Jan, 2009

 

Gt...gorgeous..that is all that qualifies....thank you so much...~Cat

7 Jan, 2009

 

Greentumb thankyou I have had a sad and tragic loss this week and have just been looking at your pics and they have given me a boost.well done they are beautiful.

7 Jan, 2009

 

I am happy to share and I'm pleased they have boosted you. I am sorry to hear of any loss and trust that all things pass, my mantra through this fierce winter time and on into a brighter time.

9 Jan, 2009

 

It sure is beautyfull, even though it must be very very cold.b

9 Jan, 2009

 

great blog. great photos..
our local papers leading story is the mill pond is frozen for the first time in twenty years...lol
minus 8 here and i'm panicing about my aeoniums....
it looks great on your photos.
thanks for the insight keep warm...sandra

9 Jan, 2009

 

There are aeoniums that people can keep out even here! I'm thinking they will be alright. Usually if anything gets a plant it is the thawing, not the freezing. I think that they can get through those temps. Thanks for the comments Sandra. I'm pleased to share, the reality of the cold and the surreality that comes with it....lol.

9 Jan, 2009

 

Congratulations on a wonderful blog. I nipped out for a few minutes before writing this to feel what it must be like. and this is only a few degrees. You must be real heroes and heroines to live up there.

10 Jan, 2009

 

This is amazing, thank you Greenthumb. The photos are absolutely stunning, the colours of the sun, the moon and the fog is something we'd never see. I think you have nature at it's rawest up there and it's really beautiful, humbling even. I don't know how you cope with the dark and cold but you clearly have an affection for the place you live, and that must make anything worthwhile.
As a few people have already said, the UK has had some frosts this year which have been quite harsh for us but nowhere near as low as you experience!
Stay warm and if you do get any shots of the Aurora I'd love to see it!

10 Jan, 2009

Ams
Ams
 

Great photos and insight GT, you have put all of us in our place. It has an 'other worldly' feel about it, reminds me of my favourite film Blade Runner.

10 Jan, 2009

 

Thank you!

Lol...right now we're whiners. Its forecasted that we might see the -teens C next week! We're all getting pretty burned out. Nothing stops, just business as usual so you can guess we're a little sour right now. The ice fog, being just trapped pollution, is gonna get us in trouble with the emission regulation next year. It a thick black smell in town. We can't do much, nothing is moving. This is my coldest snap since I moved here 9 years ago. I'm noticing the dark starting to abate, a favorite change of mine in January. We are a rare breed, putting up with all this just to be here. Even frozen solid, I love it.

Ams, I hadn't ever thought of Blade Runner, it is similar, and otherworldly. :-)

10 Jan, 2009

 

The weather has broken! We went from -45F -42C to 10F -2 C since yesterday morning! All the fog is gone and it snowed. A shinook they're calling it.

14 Jan, 2009

 

Wow, must feel like a heatwave. A great relief, I'm sure.

14 Jan, 2009

 

is this a temporary respite - or is there more to come? I don't know the word 'shinook' - maybe that would tell me the answer!

14 Jan, 2009

 

I'm guessing temporary respite. Shinook is an uncommon warm wind off a mountain range. And it definately feels a heat wave. We are almost 40F right now, above freezing, the snow is melted all around, porch is wet! Can't imagine this sticking around, really weird. We are famous for huge temperature changes like this, but this is excessively warm. This is why the permafrost is melting and glaciers receeding. I hear back to -40 next week.

15 Jan, 2009

 

you'll have to get out the sun cream...he he he

15 Jan, 2009

 

If we only had sun again Sandra....lol. I did stop wearing a coat. We got up to the 50F! I had my garden and shrubs poking up into the air through the snow. Terrible! Its back just below freezing and a good snow last night will help. Early melt can get the plants going and then the hard cold sets back in and kills them. I'd rather they stay asleep til its really spring.

20 Jan, 2009

 

~here's hoping you have enough snow to blanket your plants through the cold spell GT!

20 Jan, 2009

 

Keep warm Greenthumb and thankyou for giving us an insight into your life,fingers xx for your plants....

20 Jan, 2009

 

spooky (the fog) and beautiful (the hills) at the same time..

22 Mar, 2009

 

I'm glad we only saw this once. And on update, we got more snow than normal. I'm expecting triumphant returns of all those plants waiting for spring.

22 Mar, 2009

 

When does your Spring start?

22 Mar, 2009

 

We can plant freely June1, but I use cold frames so I can plant seed and harden of starts all through May. I might have a greenhouse up then as well to take out the tenders a little early.

22 Mar, 2009

 

Wow, these are some awesome photos! I'm definitely going to need to buy a camera before I move to Fairbanks. You should submit some of your shots to that National Geographic photo contest thing: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/your-shot/your-shot. Couldn't hurt.

~Patrick

9 May, 2009

 

Thanks Patrick.

9 May, 2009

 

I love this blog. Your photographs are brilliantly atmospheric and strangely beautiful and your descriptions made me feel I was there. Thank you:-)

16 Jan, 2010

 

Thank you Bornagain. A visit right now was refreshing. We are -35 today, and still not as bad as this last year. I'm glad you have enjoyed a 'wamer and at home' visit. :-)

17 Jan, 2010

 

Yes Gt, I've always preferred the easy way;-))

18 Jan, 2010

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