National Geographic : 1898 Apr
CLIMATIC CONDITIONS OF ALASKA 65.5°. The snowfalls are light, amounting (melted) to 8.25 inches, the greater part falling from July to October. The severity of the cold is indicated by the fact that the ground was found frozen, as far as excavations were made, to the depth of 38 feet. Winds and gales are most frequent from August to November and the lightest winds are from February to May. The natives quit their snow huts for tents about May 1. The tundra is snow-free late in June. The watershed of the Yukon includes the regions whose cli matic factors are at present of the greatest interest and prospect ive value. Fortunately, there are sufficient data to justify clear cut statements that must closely approximate the truth. St Michael, 68° 28' N., 1620 04' W., although an island, imme diately borders the mainland near the mouth of the Yukon. Its climatic characteristics have been fully set forth by Mr E. W. Nelson. The winter is very long, the average temperature being below the freezing point from October to April, inclusive. The coldest month, February, averages from twelve years' observa tions, -2.3°, but in 1877 it was -23.70. A temperature as low as -55° has been observed. The warmest month, July, has a mean temperature of 53.6°. It should be said that one summer month of any year closely resembles the same month of any other year, but there are great variations between the same winter months of various years. Spring bursts into summer about the middle of May, but it reverts more slowly to winter through a partial autumn. Summer is very depressing, from its frequent spells of misty rain and the prolonged presence for many days of unbroken, low clouds. Winter is marked by long periods of beautifully clear days, which are usually of intense cold. Strong gales occur irregularly through the year. While most frequent in autumn, yet fierce winter storms are not un common, which, with their terrible accompaniments of blinding clouds of snow and temperatures considerably below zero, are wisely dreaded, as even the hardy natives sometimes perish therein. The harbor closes as a rule by October 15, and rarely opens before June 10. The breaking up of the Yukon ice about the 1st of June is usually followed by several foggy days. Very light rains or snow are frequent and continued. The precipita tions scarcely reach 18 inches annually, of which the greater part falls from July to September. Snow falls often in summer, some times in notable amounts. Rain or snow falls three days out of five from August to October, but only one out of four from January to March.