Friday, August 12, 2005
A strong weather system brought record temperatures to the Interior on Wednesday and will keep things hot for several days.
Ted Fathauer, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Fairbanks, said the heat wave is due to a "fabulously strong high-pressure dome" aided by a cloudless sky. The high-pressure ridge responsible for the warm weather is of record proportions, according to the weather service, and it is expected to remain in place into the middle of next week.
Fathauer said the temperatures are unusual for this time of year.
"This is for real," Fathauer said. "It's not a meteorological practical joke."
The record high of 83 recorded Wednesday at Fairbanks International Airport was tied for highest temperature of the year with a day in June. Fathauer expected Thursday or today to be the warmest day of the year, until a smoky haze descended upon the area, keeping Thursday afternoon temperatures just under 80 degrees.
A dense smoke advisory was issued when the smoke from fires to the southwest drifted into the area.
Eielson Air Force Base recorded a temperature of 88 on Wednesday, breaking the 1990 record of 83. Several remote automatic stations reported temperatures into the 90s, with the highest reading of 92 at McKinley River southwest of Fairbanks.
Fathauer said garden plants should enjoy the temperatures, provided they are kept watered. He said mosquitoes are also enjoying the weather and should be propagating accordingly. But the warmth is too much for some.
"I talked with some visitors from a cruise ship and they said it was too hot," Fathauer said. "I told them I feel their pain.''
Tanana Valley State Fair attendees seemed to be taking the heat in stride, general manager Lloyd Huskey said. He said there have not been any reported heat-related illness. Last year, three people had to be transported to the hospital from the fair for heatstroke. He said this year, many people are bringing in plenty of water and most of the concessions are also selling bottled water.
"It's warm but people seem to have taken very good notice," he said.
Superintendents and barn managers at the fairgrounds are taking a variety of measures to keep livestock comfortable during the heat wave.
At the Poultry Pavilion, the new "Cluck Hut" Quonset, poultry superintendent Cheryle Pfeffer had three different size wading pools set out for the ducks and geese. Inside, helpers were keeping the sawdust and gravel wetted down and ice was added to the water containers in each pen.
When it gets really warm, the poultry are misted with mister fans and their pens dampened.
"Next year, if it's hot, we're going to put iced water bottles in the pens," Pfeffer said.
At the Delta Barn, coordinator Kathy Bue said a large interior duct fan helps, but isn't cooling the barn adequately, despite the addition of a number of window fans strung overhead. The barn houses poultry, pigs, goats and calves.
"It's really tough on the animals," Bue said. "We're keeping them inside and not exercising them. We are misting them with water and making sure they have adequate water all day long."
Julie Hendrickson, who has a ram housed in the Delta Barn, cools him off by soaking him down to the skin at an outside hose.
She said her husband, a sheet-metal worker, has been looking over the barn and will volunteer to help install some wall fans at each end of the barn if someone will donate them.
There has been some horse stall switching the past few days as temperatures remain high.
"Some kids have been scratching if their animal is stressed from the heat," said Martha Kopplin, a superintendent for the 4-H Fair Horse Show.
After riding in the competitive events, riders take their steeds to the wash rack and hose them down. Others, Kopplin said, are exercising their horses during the late evening to keep them from standing too long in their stalls.
At the U.S. Youth Soccer Association Alaska State Cup taking place at the Fairbanks Youth Soccer Association fields this week, players aren't letting the heat affect their game.
"After the games, we're mostly in our rooms with the air conditioner on," said Jaymiee Jackson with the Anchorage Arsenal under-14 team. She and teammates Karly Meyer, Madeline Blake and Aurora Henriquez said a June trip to a Florida soccer tournament hardened them against the heat--that and the three bottles of water they are required to drink before and during games.
But the spectators didn't have the luxury of the shade tents the teams use on the sidelines. Karen Richards was watching her son 13-year-old son, Luke, with the AYSC Reds from Anchorage and said the kids seemed to be handling the heat better than most of the crowd.
"He's as wound up as ever," she said. "But I'm not sure how long I'm going to last."
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