Yesterday I wrote about experiencing a 100 degree temperature change as we traveled from Palm Springs to Alaska. This isn’t very unusual for the Alaskan traveler heading to warmer places in the winter. But it did remind me of the time I experienced a 100 degree swing without traveling. I think this has to be fairly rare, especially today as Alaska doesn’t get nearly as cold as it did when I was growing up.
While growing up in Copper Center Alaska, cold stretches could last for weeks and could exceed 60 below zero. I don’t remember the year, but I do remember one of those stretches where it was about 60 below when I went to bed. During the night a Chinook moved in bringing very warm winds. By the time I woke up the next morning it was an euphoric 40 above! I heard a number of stories of people jumping up in a panic to the sound of water dripping. You see at 60 below, the sound of dripping water usually means frozen, broken pipes and a big mess. Imagine the relief to realize it was snow melting off the roof!
Chinooks usually moved in a couple times a winter and often provided above freezing temperatures, and a welcome relief to a long winter. Only once do I remember one moving in this quickly and dramatically. In one night we went from not being able to have a single piece of skin exposed to the elements, to t-shirt weather! It was the warmest 40 degrees I will ever feel! On our recent travels in Arizona, I was freezing at night when it was 40 degrees out – funny how that works. The temperatures may be the same, but they felt worlds apart.
This photo really has nothing to do with that night. I chose it because it was really cold in Fairbanks the day I captured the image so it kind of fit.