9 Reasons Why We Call This Season 'Break Up' In Alaska Instead Of Spring
When national chains start putting out swimsuits and flip flops on store shelves in March, Alaskans just laugh, knowing we still have weeks or months of cold weather to go before the summer sun shows up. Spring in Alaska never has the picture perfect new green lawns or daffodils of other parts of the country, but it has a dark magic all its own.
As the days grow longer the snow starts to melt, the animals come out of hibernation, and the earth awakens in a uniquely Alaskan way. So, forget about spring. We don’t have it here, at least not until we go through the rough transition from gorgeous winter wonderland to lovely midnight sun. Welcome to the rejuvenating, and often unsightly, season of ‘break up.’ Here are the reasons this season is unique unto itself and, at least in the U.S., found only in Alaska.
1. The River Ice Breaks Up
The river ice starts to break up after being a solid sheet strong enough to drive a truck on all winter. In April and May, most of river ice in Alaska thaws and breaks up into pieces. If everything melts too quickly, this can cause ice jams and catastrophic flooding to river communities.
2. Melting Snow Banks Break Up Your Routine
Roads turn into streams when the giant snow piles from winter plowing start to melt. In some places. just leaving the house can be an ordeal in the messy, mucky time. You may need to park far away from the house and get out your hip waders early.
3. You Have To Break Up With Your Winter Trails
Breaking up with your normal winter trail can be heartbreaking. Alaskans often use frozen rivers for winter activities and transportation. Skiing, skijoring, dog mushing, and snow shoeing all suddenly become extremely difficult in the soggy spring snow. Using frozen river trails is also dangerous after the ice starts to thaw and crack. The trails on land, either in the woods or on the roads, are knee deep in slush and mud and aren't ready for summer favorites like jogging or biking. It can feel like you can't get anywhere without a slog.
4. Unpredictable Weather Swings Break Up Your Plans
Some days can feel like summer and you start pulling out the shorts and planning a trip to the lake, until you wake up with another few inches of snow on the ground. Break up can swing wildly from warm to freezing cold and back again in unpredictable ways.
5. The Hard Pack Breaks Up The Roads
Pot holes form all over the road system as melting run-off pulls pieces of roadways away. Roads that have been covered with a hard pack of frozen snow and ice are suddenly exposed to the studded winter tired most cars sport during the winter months. Drivers must switch the tires back to non-studded ones by the end of April, but in the meantime the harsh conditions really rip up the roads.
6. You Have To Break Up With Your Winter Boots
Break up with your cute winter boots and get get ready to live in Xtra Tuffs. Knee high rubber boots are a necessary to tackle the the muddy conditions. Summer sandals and leather hiking boots will have to wait for drier days.
7. Break up with The Aurora, At Least Until Fall
Gone are the cozy nights curled into front of the wood stove with aurora dancing in the sky. The aurora borealis will still be there, you just won't be able to see it again until September.
8. Break Up With Cozy Winter Nights
Say goodbye to cozy fireplaces and hello to work. Summers in Alaska are when most people make money. Major industries include construction, tourism and fishing, and many people work long hours with few days off while the sun is shining.
9. Break up with Hibernation
Long, dark winter nights are perfect for sleeping long and deeply. Many arctic animals including brown and black bears hibernate through the coldest months. But when the summer sun starts it's unrelenting march toward summer solstice, everyone is pushed to face the day in a far more active way. Wake up from the winter's slumber and get ready to seize those endless summer days from May-July.
Have you been through an Alaskan Break Up? Comment with your break up stories below!
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