Sunday, March 6, 2011

What Ten Days of Wind Did to the Snow

Today is the tenth day of winds, brought on by massive high pressure systems over much of Alaska. Our barometer peaked on Thursday at 1043 millibars. Today is it down to 1017. The winds got up into the low 80s. Today it is blowing between 10 and 25 mph.

Above is our driveway. The drift snow to the right of the ridges is coated with glacial silt that has blown out of the Matanuska River valley.

Below is the new drift in our front yard. It is about 5 feet high, 12 feet wide and 70 feet long.

Here is the new drift on the southern shore of Neklason Lake. It is about 1/4 mile long.

Wind scalloping of ice and snow, melding together. Click on the image to enlarge it.

The wind built up little piles of snow over the lake ice, then undercut the windward edges.

The silt pockets on the windward sides of the undercuts, then gets mixed into ice crystals in the sunshine.

Little pockets of silt mixed with lowered ridges and lake surface ice are like islets on the lake.

Lazy Mountain, Matanuska Peak and the Chugach ridges between the Matanuska and Knik River valleys over the lake.

More scalloping of ice and snow.

Quite a bit of silt has built up on the lee side of this snow-ice ridge.

Bubbles, trapped in the ice.

The silt, blown from the river valleys to the lands downwind, replenishes the soil on land, and helps provide nutrients for the salmon and trout in Neklason Lake.

Scalloping along the edge of the lakeside drift.

My favorite natural sculpture from this trip.

Birch and alder shadows along the south shore of the lake loom over the shoreside drift.


Belle said...

Fantastic and interesting photos.

Anonymous said...

Cool photo essay Phil. DZ

Philip Munger said...

Thanks, folks. Coolest thing was seeing my dog out there, so happy, almost fully recovered from his surgery.

Steve said...

Thanks for the great shots.

Kat said...

Awesome pictures Phil! Thanks for sharing. Nature can't be topped for beauty. Just spectacular. It makes putting up with the wind & cold worthwhile just to see what they created.

Anonymous said...

Sweet shots Phill.

There is a 26+ acre field out my front door. The lack of snow and winds has rendered it a grassland.

I am fasinated with how the winter elements shape the surface of the field. It is so beautiful. A tiny blade of grass will stay erect all winter long.

Also of note is how the sun will heat up a darker portion of a snow drift. A light dusting of glacial grit has changed the shape of a snow drift on a sunny, windless day. Love it!