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Melting brings out the worst of winter

fashionover 40 woman in spring outfit in the 49th state
fashion over 40 woman posing in front of a snowpack
Outfit photo taken in the driveway on Tuesday before onset of snowmelt. I am wearing a Shein top, Harley Davidson booties, Lookbook Store leather jacket (all own) and jeggings c/o No nonsense

Two weeks ago the grocery stores put out the rubber boots for sale. The gardening sections exchanged their display of snow blowers to lawn mowers despite green-up typically isn’t before mid May. The first signs of spring even though temperatures were still in the negative double digits (less than -23.3o).

Alaska melting snowpack
Upper left corner shows a puddle from melt-water that dripped off the frozen gutter. Grass is already visible in the middle ground of the photo. See the needles and birch seeds in the remaining snow.

Last week the temperatures finally were above the freezing point during daytime. Snow-melt set on. Since the drainage system was still at below freezing temperatures the melt-water froze upon flowing into the sinks. The results? The drainage system gets clogged with ice. Consequently, all further melt-water has no way to go. Huge puddles exist all over town. Of course, gutters have the same fate. Water drops from the roofs, sometimes building long icicles.

Alaska snow meltwater dripping from a roof
Melt-water dripping off the roof due to a frozen gutter.

Streets and driveways that hadn’t been plowed after the last snow storm turn into a mix of snow and water. When they are dirt roads you have the perfect recipe for mud.

Alaska snowpack melting in the driveway.
Mix of water and snow in our driveway that we hadn’t cleaned of the snow after the Friday snow storm. The photo was taken on Sunday, i.e. on the second day after the storm.

At night, temperatures go below freezing. Thus, water freezes at the top of the puddles building areas of pure ice where the puddles are not deep. The water on wet streets freezes as well. You see little crystals reflecting the light of the beams of your head lights. It looks pretty, but the streets are worse then what you were used to during winter.

icicles
Icicles during the melting season

Because of all the water, rubber boots are in order. However, they conduct heat very easily. Thus, your feet get cold in no time. People wear double sock and rubber boots with jeans and a light jacket during day time.

Alaskans who can afford it have It Xtratuf. These boots are insulated. Thus, they don’t have the problem to get into the boots with doubled socks. Some even come with steal toe cap. Of course, it must be the Legacy one. They are brown and about mid-calf height. Around the sole is a beige trim as well as around the opening. These boots are so It that brides even take their Xtratuf to their outdoor weddings.

Since the Alaska It rubber boots don’t come with a high heel, I don’t have a pair. Thus, I wear my high-heeled Hunter boots with boot toppers during melting season. This means these boots get out for about a week each year.

The piles of snow along the streets turn gray or even black from the dirt and gravel that remain in the snowpack when the water runs away.

Alaska springtime snow melting on the side of the street
Snowpack on the side of our street that is only traveled by the residents of our neighborhood. Those on main streets become totally black during melting season.

I don’t like the melting season because it brings out all the dirt of winter. Not only gravel that was used to roughen the roads during winter or seeds and needles that fell off the trees. Once the snow goes away it gives sight to all the lost mittens, scarves, candy wraps, plastic shopping bags, trash bags fallen off from pickup trucks, and whatever people lost or disrespectfully threw away during winter.

Alaska ducks searching for food
Mallards searching for seeds in the mix of snow and water

Typically, in May, there is a clean up day. On that weekend volunteers collect all the trash in yellow plastic packs. These bags are then transported to the landfill. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer when one would bring the trash directly to where it should be?

Focus Alaska is a weekly series on Alaska lifestyle, curiousa, insider travel tips, and Alaska street style.

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Photo of me: G. Kramm

Copyright 2013-2017 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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