... there it was, four or so inches of dirty snow with the consistency of sand, dumped overnight by trucks onto a downtown street for the 85 teams of sled dogs and drivers, called mushers, to parade through for the race’s ceremonial start Saturday morning. The parade was only three miles long instead of the usual 11 because, despite the train delivery of tons of snow from Fairbanks, there still was not enough to go around.It's been abnormally mild this winter in Alaska:
This winter has also lacked what Alaskans call “deep cold,” in the range of minus 50 or lower, which may have implications for the trail. No weather station anywhere in the state, even in traditionally frigid spots of the interior, like Fairbanks, has recorded anything colder than minus 30 this year. Spring arrives in two weeks, and if that mark stands, it will be the first time in at least 100 years that no place in Alaska saw winter temperatures fall to minus 50, according to National Weather Service records.But less-than-wintry weather has become the new normal for the Iditarod. Here's a story from 2015:
... the famed Iditarod Sled Dog Race has been forced to shift its route due to lack of snow, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.And a report from the course of the race in 2014:
The start of the race, which begins March 7, has been moved from its traditional location in Willow to Fairbanks....
Members of the trail committee's board voted unanimously Tuesday to change the course "due to low snowfall in some of the most treacherous sections of the trail's roughly 1,000 miles," the paper reported.
"This year, you can't go through a rock," Nome musher Burmeister told the News- Miner. "There's boulders and rocks that we've never seen there in 20-some years that are littering all the gorge, places that you'd never even see a rock because you're going over feet of snow going through there. This year, you're looking at bare ground."
... much of the attention has turned to how the race will be affected by the warm weather Alaska experienced earlier this year.And in 2013:
“It’s a minefield out there,” said former Yukon Quest champion Hugh Neff. “It’s the roughest I’ve ever seen,” said Jeff King, a 22-time race finisher. Aliy Zirkle reported “No snow. Zip. Zero. None.” Many suffered crashes, busted knees, bruises, and sprained ankles. Several are out of the race already.
... the state began the year with more melting snow than usual....
The abnormally warm weather melted snow in Alaska, which made a return toward more normal cooler temperatures in much of February create a different kind of dangerous condition: ice, and hard debris.
Unseasonably warm weather in parts of Alaska has complicated training for some mushers already signed up for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.Skip back a couple of years to 2011 and there was this:
It has also forced the cancellation of several qualifying races for future rookies of the famous 1,000-mile trek to Nome.
The warmer weather is leading to dehydrated and overheated dogs, and on top of that, there's fear of an outbreak of kennel cough -- a contagious upper respiratory infection -- forcing many mushers to drop dogs.That's a problem that's also mentioned in today's story:
... milder weather does not make the Iditarod safer, easier or more predictable.Remember: It is the deeply held position of one of our two major political parties that there's no reason to do anything about changes in global climate, either because these changes allegedly aren't taking place or because, yes, they are taking place, but any effort to counteract them will cost money.
For the 1,000 or so sled dogs, for example, heat is a much bigger concern than cold or even lack of snow, veterinarians and mushers said. The animals are bred and trained to run in harsh conditions and are happiest at temperatures of zero to minus 10....
Just one sunny day in the 30s or 40s can raise concerns about overheating and dehydration for the dogs, said Stuart Nelson Jr., the chief veterinarian for the race.
If you support a presidential candidate in the other major political party but you intend not to vote in the general election if your candidate doesn't win the nomination, you're enabling climate change denialism. And if you generally support that other major political party but you routinely neglect to vote in congressional elections, you're also enabling climate denialism. Please remember that in November.