If anyone doubted winter had finally returned to Homer, all you had to do was dance in the snow on Valentine’s Day last week or sing in the cold last Saturday. In warmer states less used to winter, the slightest snowflake might cause people to race back to the comfort of their suburban homes. Uh, that’s assuming they didn’t get caught in 45-mile traffic jam as Sunbelt drivers spin their wheels on an inch of snow.
As has now become apparent, the Betster has only been posing as a smart-aleck social adviser and in reality works as a secret instigator of weather. How else to explain why when the B. writes about weather, any weather, shazam! the whole world turns upside down?
Just when you thought our winter weather couldn’t get any weirder, along comes a new twist. We’re in a fire weather watch. “Winter” is used here in the Florida sense, to describe a time of the year and not the actual weather normally experienced in Alaska because, well, abnormal is the new normal.
The Betster would like to call back last week’s Best Bets in which yours truly said it appeared parts of Alaska had drifted down into Washington and Oregon. That now seems not to be the case. What actually has happened is that Alaska has swapped places with the Pacific Northwest. Not only did we drift south, but many of the Lower 48 states have drifted north.
A quick glance at the weather forecast for a Pacific Northwest city calls for a chance of rain, and temperatures in the high 40s and mid 30s. And at another Pacific Northwest city, the forecast is for rain, highs in the high 40s and lows in the mid 40s. Betsteroids, here’s a quiz: Which one is for Seattle and which for Homer?
Pretty nifty — guess who’s 50? That would be us, of course, as we celebrate 50 years of reporting on this wild, wacky and wonderful town. Holy Mimeograph! Fifty years doesn’t seem like that long a time, not if you can remember 1964 and stuff like the Beatles first performing on the Ed Sullivan Show. Uh, the Beatles was the group Paul McCartney performed in before Wings.
Ya know, it just doesn’t seem right that while we’re enjoying balmy weather here in Alaska, subzero cold has descended upon our southern neighbors. Holy Polar Vortex! On Tuesday, it was colder (19 degrees) in Pensacola, Fla., than Homer (34 degrees). The temperatures plunged 50 degrees, from 55 to 5, inside of a day in New York City. If you looked at a weather map of the Lower 48 states earlier this week, it had a big purple-blue blob showing cold temperatures extending over all but the most southern regions of the country.
So, Betsteroids, how many New Year’s resolutions have you broken already? Here it is day two of a bright, shiny year and already the B. has broken six, including “thou shalt not be snarky.” Being a hardened, cynical journalist, the Betster really has trouble with that one.
Time sure does fly up here in the dark north. After weeks of anticipation, a little stress and some foul weather now and then, the big day will finally arrive. Holy Axial Tilt! That’s right: On Dec. 23, we finally start gaining some daylight hours. Oh, it will be a minute or two a day, but our long slide out of darkness starts next Monday.
One of Alaskans’ favorite sports these days is making fun of how woefully unprepared cities in the Lower 48 can be when snow falls. We’re not talking respectable amounts of snow, like your average Buffalo, N.Y., blizzard of 5 feet. We’re talking 5 inches in downtown Portland, Ore. Apparently our neighbors to the south got a bit more snow than they’re used to. An ex-pat Alaska friend on Facebook has been whining about the pathetic response in Corvallis, Ore. “School’s canceled for the fourth day in a row!” she wrote. “Are they just going to wait until it melts in the spring?”
Now’s the time when our social calendars fill up like a bath tub at the bottom of Niagara Falls. Everyone wants to have open houses, office parties and fancy social affairs where men might even have to wear ties. OK, put on a pair of clean blue jeans without holes and maybe even a button-up shirt.
In a 1784 letter to his daughter, Sally, Benjamin Franklin observed that the bald eagle should not be the symbol of the United States. “He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly,” Franklin wrote. A better bird symbol would be the turkey, Franklin wrote: “For the truth the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original Native of America.”
The other night while driving home from the word mines, the Betster stopped by Beluga Lake to gaze at the rising full moon. With a new sheen of ice, the moon shimmered on the lake in one of those only-in-Alaska moments.
While the B. stood there watching the moon, a guy pulled up in a pickup truck with his son, got out, tromped on the ice, and said, “Three inches! We can skate!”
Ten days after Daylight Saving Time flipped, the Betster still hasn’t quite adjusted to the time change. Here at Latitude 59 degrees, as we slouch toward the winter solstice, it doesn’t really matter which side of the day gives up sunshine. Within a few weeks we’ve lost an hour of daylight anyway.
Jump into the Betster’s wayback machine and travel a year ago to the magical time of fall 2012. Remember that, Betsteroids? From Oct. 17-23, the average temperature was 29.93 degrees, with a low of 20. Oct. 23-30 the average temperature was 30 degrees, with a low of 19. From Oct. 31-Nov. 3, the average was 29.7 degrees, with a low of 13.
If you’re one of those grumpy Homer curmudgeons who don’t like kids and live downtown, you might want to turn out your lights, lock your doors and hide in the basement tonight. Not only will your neighbors’ little darlings come knocking for Halloween, but so will children from as far away as Detroit, it seems. OK, maybe not Detroit, but the greater Homer area.
After decades of living in Alaska, the years and seasons blur together. The Betster’s memories might have gotten mixed up, but yours truly dimly remembers the progress of summer to fall goes something like this: August, rain; September, more rain and colder; October, colder, lots of frost and some snow. Betsteroids, something has gone out of whack here.
You know how people these days get all harsh and rude, particularly on social media and the interwebs? Yeah, well, that’s Congress for ya. See? That’s mean and petty, isn’t it? Well, PRConsultants Group, a national public relations professional organization, wants to put a stop to that, at least for one day. They’ve declared next Tuesday Snark Free Day.
No, they don’t mean the mythical beast in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland,” which can be charmed with smiles and soap. They’re talkin’ snark as in nasty and sinister.
About this time of year, Homerites fall into outerwear confusion. One day it can be sunny and warm, with just a light jacket or sweater needed to brave the fall air. Another day it can be blowing rain sideways followed by blowing leaves sideways, but with sunny skies. Rain gear? Wool jacket? Gloves and hat? You just never know what to throw in your car to face the day.
Yet another Alaska reality TV show washes up on the airwaves. Starting Sunday on TLC is “Alaskan Women Looking for Love,” about six Alaska women who head south to Miami Beach looking for goods that aren’t odd.
“Faced with men consumed by fishing and hunting, often sporting long hair and scruffy beards, these women are fed up with their options,” a press release reads.
Whew. Dudes, these Alaska women have your number. Not content that there are more men than women here, they also want you to clean up nice. Hmmph.