March 6, 2015

Anchorage has only seen a third of its usual annual snowfall this year, so conditions were too warm to race there.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Warm Weather Forces Iditarod Farther North

Will run from Fairbanks to Nome

Due to unseasonably warm weather in Alaska, organizers of the Iditarod sled-dog race moved the course 225 miles north to a route where there is snow and ice. Much of the race’s usual start point has exposed gravel, according to the AP.

The ceremonial run through Anchorage takes place Saturday, but the official start on Monday has been moved over the Alaska Range to Fairbanks. Iditarod CEO Stan Hooley told the AP that the conditions were bad last year and worse this year. The new course, which officials had been looking at since January, will work around problem spots that tripped up mushers in 2014.

The new, flatter route avoids the mountainous Alaska Range and the Dalzell Gorge, but forces mushers to traverse 600 miles of river ice. Race director Mark Nordman told the AP that this could level the 78-musher playing field. “Nobody has a plan,” he said.

Dave Snider, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage, told the AP that the jet stream has been bringing warm air in from the Pacific, leaving Anchorage with a third of its usual annual snowfall.

The race will run 968 miles from Fairbanks to Nome, plus the 11-mile ceremonial run through Anchorage. The winner is expected to reach Nome in about ten days.


Don Young's controversial statement was in response to a letter signed by 79 House members asking to list the gray wolf as threatened.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Rep. Young Says Wolves May Cure “Homeless Problem”

Alaska lawmaker’s gaffe raises hackles

Addressing the U.S. Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, Alaska Rep. Don Young said that wolves might cure the “homeless problem” in his state, Alaska Dispatch News reports. Young opposes gray wolf protections.

After the statement made national headlines, Young released a statement later Thursday that his words were “misunderstood,” reports Alaska Dispatch News.

“We’ve got 79 congressmen sending you a letter, haven’t got a damn wolf in their whole district,” Young said at the hearing. “I’d like to introduce them in your district. If I introduced them in your district, you wouldn’t have a homeless population anymore.”

Young was referring to a letter signed by House members asking Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to reconsider removing the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List. Young accused Jewell’s department acts without consulting Alaskans or Native Alaskans.

After the hearing, Young offered a statement of explanation on his website, in which he said that he had intended to be hyperbolic, “in order to stress the point that wolves are a serious problem for communities who deal with them.”

“If you misunderstood my comments, just imagine the impact a healthy wolf population would have on your own town, community, or congressional district,” Young's statement continued. “It would wreak havoc and place anything in their reach in great jeopardy.”