Cold Alaska Spring – Part 2 – The Nenana Ice Classic

The Nenana Ice Classic is an Alaska tradition.   Each year thousands of us guess when the ice will melt on the Tanana River at Nenana in central Alaska.  This year somebody won $318,500.

The ice was late this year, really late.  It set a record.  The contest began in 1917, and the latest date had been May 20th in 1964.   We beat it this year….by 2 hours.   2013 now has the dubious distinction of being the new cold standard for the classic.   The following Snow and Ice Data Center chart illustrates the dramatic nature of this years cold.

1964 really stands out!  And 1992 in more recent times.  The date shown in the chart is the Julian date.   The chart was last updated in 1998.  Data since then has been well within the average range of the chart with all dates falling between 114 (2004) and 127 (2002)   The average winning date is Julian 125 or May 5 (or May 4th on a leap year).   This year we were late….16 days late.

I’d be the first to admit that the data really doesn’t mean much, but it is interesting.   1992 (the Pinatubo volcano year) was a very late year and the time around the record setting El Nino in 1998 was unusually early.   And look at 1940.  I wonder what happened that year.

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