Acclimating to the warm weather

February 23, 2009

By Bernadette E. Anne


Dispatches from around the globe This week— Alaska

It’s mid-February and too warm: 34 degrees. I can’t even wear my Marmot jacket in this weather; it makes me overheat as I run errands. This tells me I have acclimated to Anchorage. As race communications coordinator for Iditarod, the 1,000-mile dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome, I am in the midst of my two-month annual spell here. 

When I arrived, the temp was 5 degrees. It took me five days to acclimate to the cold, very dry Alaska climate.Now, it’s funny that I call 34 degrees warm and wish for it to go away. We need colder temps and more snow. The ground is covered, but it’s old snow, and with these warm temps, it’s slushy and punchy — not good for running dogs. 

I love snow, but it changes your world when everything is covered in it. There really are no colors to the landscape except for the man-induced ones, from buildings. When I come home each spring, the lavishness of Issaquah’s green nature is a visual shock when all I’ve seen for two months is white and shades of gray. 

The blanket of snow here is a blessing, though, with the winter darkness; it makes nights lighter than one would ever expect and days brighter, even when it’s overcast. 

Anchorage gains five minutes of daylight each day, so we’re up to nine and a half hours of daylight, but it seems still dark. They don’t register sunrise here until about 8:30 a.m.

There are protections regarding development here and I’m happy to report it’s for the polar bear here. Last week’s Anchorage Daily News reported the construction of an ice road across the North Slope took a detour to stay at least a mile away from a sleeping polar bear. 

The same paper carried a report of a police cruiser that hit a moose in Anchorage that ran out into the road and they think the car can be repaired. It seems so odd to me to see a moose within the city, but and I’ve learned to be alert when I see a large, dark figure along the edge of a road. Moose accidents can total a car.

I’m reminded even more that I’m not in Issaquah when everything goes into the trash. There is no recycling in public places and even for local residents, it is extremely difficult, because they do not have the curbside collection we have. Paper, glass, aluminum cans — everything is tossed into the garbage. That’s probably my hardest adjustment. 

And I noticed the lack of Starbucks right away. In Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city at a quarter-million people, there are only three standalone Starbucks stores. Can you imagine that?

On the Web


Follow the progress of race prep activities and the race at

www.iditarod. com.


Reach Issaquah resident Bernadette E. Anne, Iditarod communications coordinator, at

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