Spring in January in the Yukon?

It’s now been a month since I last posted – that may be the longest “dry spell” here in 4 years. I’ve been so busy that I hardly know which direction is up, but this morning I’d like to tell you about some of what’s been going on, starting with today and going backwards.

This is the weather report as of a few minutes ago. This record-breaking warm weather just keeps going on and on.
Weather forecast for Whitehorse, Yukon - January 23, 2014
I hadn’t been to Skagway for a month, and the sunrise as I was coming home from town yesterday morning provided the extra boot I needed to hit the road with my fur-buddy. The photo was shot at 09:12.
January sunrise on the Alaska Highway

It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a good weather report for Skagway, so I wasn’t expecting much for the day, but even so I was in for some surprises. The temperature was a very mild -4°C (25°F) when we headed south, and slowly dropped to -15°C (5°F) by the time we reached Robinson at 09:30 – I actually pulled over and noted that in my journal, as I expected it to be the lowest temperature of the day. Just 7 minutes later, though, with virtually no change in altitude, the temperature had climbed to -1°C (30°F)! That is one of, if not the most dramatic temperature changes I’ve ever seen.

Conditions got quite ugly as we neared the south end of Windy Arm (Km 81 on the South Klondike Highway). There was apparently a warm, wet layer of air above the cold one, and though the ground-level temperature was -5°C (23°F), a light rain was falling, of course freezing as it hit the car and road. The temperature slowly climbed to the freezing point as we neared the White Pass, but the visibility dropped to less than 50 feet for several miles across the summit. Don’t I know how to have a good time? ๐Ÿ™‚

I picked up most of my stuff at the post office, though a post office rule that they only keep parcels for 2 weeks is now being enforced for the first time in the 20 years I’ve had a box there, so one book got returned to the merchant. From there, I went over to the mouth of the Skagway River. The view of that great sandy beach was all the encouragement I needed to take Monty for a long walk.
A sandy beach at Yakutania Point, Skagway
Monty spotted a dog that he would really have liked to play with, but when I insisted that he get in the car to drive to the Yakutania Point trailhead instead, he did. I occasionally get asked what breed Monty is – he’s a Seppala Siberian Sleddog, a breed of husky developed in the Yukon about 25 years ago.
Monty, a Seppala Siberian Sleddog
With the high country frozen, the Skagway River doesn’t have much water flowing. This is the view north from the Yakutania Point footbridge.
The Skagway River in January
Ahhhh – soft sand in January! I really wanted to go barefoot, but it was much too cold ๐Ÿ™‚
A sandy beach at Skagway, Alaska
Yakutania Point.
Yakutania Point, Skagway
Looking south down Taiya Inlet.
Taiya Inlet, Skagway, Alaska
I could see a forecast rainstorm heading up the channel, and knowing what that could turn into up in the White Pass, cut the walk a bit shorter than I’d planned. The temperature was still sitting at the freezing point through the pass, and conditions were slightly better than they’d been a couple of hours before.
Driving through the White Pass, Alaska in January
With even warmer temperatures forecast this week, Highways crews were very busy getting as much snow and slop off the road as possible.
Snowplow on the South Klondike Highway
Even though I took the photo, I still find myself shaking my head in amazement that the Yukon can look like this in January.
A warm January along the South Klondike Highway, Yukon
This past weekend, Cathy and I went to Vancouver for 3 nights – I’ll tell you about that trip in another post once I digest it all. While there, I did some experimenting with HDR (High Dynamic Range) images. While I think it’s a gimmick that’s being over-used, it’s pretty cool with the right subject – this is Coal Harbour in Vancouver.
Coal Harbour, Vancouver, in HDRI
One of the projects that I’ve gotten back into is working on the Bill Lythgoe collection of photographs of British Columbia in the 1950s and ’60s. You can see much more about the collection here.
Working on the Bill Lythgoe photo collection
This is the Lakeview Lodge at Mile 462, Alaska Highway, as Bill saw it in about 1963.
Lakeview Lodge, Alaska, in the 1960s
Back outside, Monty has been enjoying the warm weather, and I ran the snowblower around the property a couple of weeks ago so he could RUN! A husky racetrack is just plain fun ๐Ÿ™‚
Renovations continue on the house – the next pair of photos show the change in the furnace/laundry room is the past few weeks. The list of things accomplished is very long, but there’s lots more to do, and I’ll be at it all winter. Next Monday, I’ll be gutting the main bathroom for a complete re-do.
Home renovation - laundry room before-and-after

Well, that’s a brief look at what’s been going on. I know that some of you are getting truly awful weather, and hope that you all stay safe.


Spring in January in the Yukon? — 16 Comments

  1. I think most people overdo the HDR pictures. However, you can get some neat pictures (as yours shows) even though they aren’t realistic looking. When adjusted properly I think you can get a more realistic view of a scene. That first shot is absolutely gorgeous. Do you ship to Skagway because it’s a lot cheaper?

  2. HDR can definitely be adjusted so that it’s more natural looking. Shipping to Skagway is usually much cheaper, and many suppliers won’t ship to Canada (some won’t ship to Alaska, either).

  3. It’s supposed to be raining tonight in Fairbanks. Pretty grim weather but it may help my fuel oil bill…

    The Vancouver HDR photo looks pretty cool. I like the blurred water in the foreground. Nice effect!

  4. The Seppala Siberian Sleddog that goes back only 25 years in this form, bred here by J. Jeffrey Bragg, is quite different than the historic breed. “In the late 1990s, it was recognised by Canadian agricultural authorities as a new โ€œevolving breedโ€ and in 2002 a similar separate breed initiative was started in the USA.”

  5. wellcome back Murray.Another great post and nice photos too.I am wondering why are you taking your mail from Skagway and not delivered @ home,or to Whitehorse?

  6. Hi Murray Nice to see you are back. It looks as if it is colder in southern ont. than Whitehorse. It was -21C the other night here and has been very cold for a few weeks. interesting photos thanks

  7. Thanks, Miltos. I have things mailed to Skagway whenever I can save money by doing it. Magazine subscriptions to US addresses cost as little as 25% of what the same magazine would cost to have sent here, for example.

    Thanks, Bruce – it’s quite amazing to watch our friends in the East get hammered by serious Winter week after week. This winter must be breaking weather records by the thousands, colder for you folks, and warmer and wetter on this side.

  8. Great to see you back Murray. Taiya Inlet, isn’t that the same inlet that was froze over a few winters ago and got ice skaters out on it during January ? What a difference a few years make especially with the warm weather you are having. Monty simply looks great and I’m sure enjoys your outings.

  9. Murray glad to hear you again, I have one question…will you please pull the cold weather back your way…we have had the coldest weather and more of it down here since who knows when…the people down here just can not drive and function when we have ice pellets, freezing rain and/or snow.
    Stay warm we will send warm air your way when we get some from Biloxi Mississippi ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I’d be okay with taking it back now, John – this is getting silly, and it’s raising hell with the sled dog races. It was great to take a break from Winter that didn’t cost thousands of dollars and use a lot of aviation fuel ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Interesting idea, Rejeana, but it would have to get warmer for longer to break up the rivers. There’s a LOT of water around, but we’re a long way from an actual breakup.

  12. Happy New Year! Even if it is a gimmick, I like your Coal Harbour photo. I love the one of Monty on his racetrack. I do not know how you manage to drive in those conditions, though – it seems you could navigate to Skagway and back with your eyes shut. It’s a beautiful day here today, but we have had serious gales (trees down at our place) and a cracker of an electric storm the other day. However, nothing to the Winter that eastern Canada is having. All the best,
    Marie G.