It is November, we have snow and we are skiing the Southcentral Alaska backcountry early and in the best conditions in years.
Observation by Mike Brubaker:
It is November 21st, four days before Thanksgiving. A time when we usually go skating on the early ice and play a traditional pond hockey match. A time when we typically don't have much snow. Two or years ago it was 40 degrees on Thanksgiving, which is unusually warm. There was still some ice so we went skating at Potters Marsh. There was a 1/2 inch of water on the ice making it completely transparent. Fun to look through but not to play hockey; pucks don't' glide through water. On some other recent years (2017?) there was no ice or snow, so the Thanksgiving Day pond hockey game was cancelled. But this year lining up to be really amazing. We got our first snow in September and the nordic skiers were soon out on the trails. Then came rain (at least down low) on Halloween and flooding in Girdwood. Then more snow in early November. Now the temperatures are in the single digits or minus and we have had over a week of cold and clear weather. In the Anchorage area the backcountry skiing is the best it has been in years. Checking the Chugach Avalanche Center site on November 12th I saw several promising observations and a good forecast. Time to get out the skis! We skied Summit Lake area last weekend and Turnagain Pass this weekend. At the parking lot this morning it was -6 degrees F. The top was warmer thanks to sunshine and no wind. According to the attached article from KTUU, this kind of an extended cold spell in November is pretty rare.
"In the past 10 years there have only been three other weeks where Anchorage was this cold during a seven day period. Those occurred in: January 2020, January 2012, and November 2011. In addition to November 2011, there have only been two other Novembers that saw a seven day period as cold, and those were November 1955 and November 1963."
Cold weather aside, very rarely do I remember skiing conditions this good before Thanksgiving. Alyeska Resort is not open yet, but skiers have been tearing it up in the the backcountry from Hatchers Pass to the Anchorage Front Range, to Turnagain Pass and Summit Lake. We seemed to have missed our wild ice skating season, and moved straight into ski season. We'll see what Thanksgiving brings, but we are feeling pretty thankful already, pond hockey and ice skating aside.
Nordic Trail Past Blueberry Hollow, Anchorage 11-13,2021
Manitoba Mountain, Summit Lakes area, November 14, 2021
Tin Can Mountain, Turnagain Pass, November 21, 2021
Anchorage Ted Stevens Airport - November Weather Calendar, 11-21-21