2017 rushed into Alaska with record breaking cold temperatures. Our Sutton campus experienced cold between to -36 and -42 degrees Fahrenheit. Then the next week, it literally warmed up 70 degrees and sent daytime temperatures as high as 28 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Somewhere in between, we received over two and a half to three feet of snow. The crazy up and down temperatures wreck havoc on buildings, equipment, animals and people. Amazingly many birds not only survive the extreme conditions, but bring sweet blessings when spotted at local bird feeders. In spite of the temperatures, the songs of chickadees, nuthatches, redpolls, pine gross peaks, and many other species permeate the air. Of course our local ravens, magpies, and bald eagles are always nearby too usually waiting to raid trash cans when the winter winds blow off their lids or garbage bags left in the back of pick-up trucks. This winter, moose have been plentiful around Sutton. The snow came late allowing easy access to food all winter long. While the snow came late, when it came, it came deep forcing many moose onto plowed highways and streets for easier walking, causing an dramatic increase in automobile accidents killing moose within the last 10 days. Thankfully there are many meat harvesting permits and agencies to salvage the moose meat to feed many poor Alaskans. January also saw the return of sunlight, with today having 7 hours and 21 minutes of ambient light.
written by Sharon Aubrey