Record warmth (and NYC shopping carts) causing problems in Alaska

While parts of the US are dealing with record cold, Alaskans are wondering what happened to winter

The dog days of winter

Ray Weaver

A ridge of high pressure over western North America is allowing warm air from the subtropics to flow all the way up to Alaska, bringing with it unprecedented heat to places like Fairbanks, which has seen temperatures as high as 6°C. Normally, the daytime high is around -17°C.

The antics of the jet stream, a major weather engine across the North American continent, have been the culprit behind the much talked-about ‘polar vortex’, which has sent Arctic weather as far south as the US Gulf Coast and given Texans a chance to play in the snow.

While weather stations in the Lower 48 have broken or tied more than 2,600 records for cold this winter so far, Alaska has broken or tied more than 20 daily temperature records for warmth.

Too warm to sled
Warm weather has shut down ski slopes and caused some road problems. It is also jeopardising a centrepiece of Alaskan culture and commerce.

A qualifying race for Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the annual long-distance sledge dog race run in early March from Anchorage to Nome, has been canceled due to the warm weather. It was the second mid-distance Iditarod qualifier to be called off this winter.

Mild weather and rain melted much of the snow in south-central Alaska. And as temperatures rose to 6°C in Anchorage on Friday, race organisers called off the event.

As if the lack of snow wasn’t enough to stress the Iditarod organisers, they were also forced to send the group behind the similarly named Idiotarod Race in New York a cease and desist order to get them to change the name of their event. The Alaskans were apparently concerned that people would get their race confused with the urban spoof version, in which participants push each other around in shopping carts.

Idiotarod took to its Facebook page to take a swipe at Iditarod.

“No one in their right mind could possibly confuse the ramshackle, unsanctioned display of frivolity featuring racers with wacky costumes and ridiculously modified shopping carts running between bars in the outer boroughs of New York City with the well-known long-distance sled dog race between Anchorage and Nome. Plus the Idiotarod NYC race has been going on for 10 f@cking years now, people.”

In order to avoid trouble with what it called the “big scary lawyers”, the New York group has changed the name of its race to ‘diotarodorama NYC.

Originally published by The Arctic Journal. Re-published here with the permission of the author.

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