The Nenan Ice Classic – Alaska’s only lottery
Each year, the Nenana Ice Classics Office sells $2.50 tickets from November 1 to April 5 to Alaskans who want to bet on the breakup day, hour, and minute of the Tanana River at Nenana. The Tanana is a contributor to the Yukon. The winner of this breakup lottery known as the Nenana Ice Classics will get the jackpot. If there are several people who guessed the right time, the jackpot will be shared among them. If no one predicted the right time, the one who had the closest bet, will be the winner. Like with all lotteries, there are people who just go for the same day and time every year. People consider the measurements and the weather to come up with their bet.
Bets can also be based on data
Prior to the last day of selling tickets or as long as the ice is safe (which ever comes first) officials drill the ice on a regular basis to measure and publicize its thickness. This year, the ice was 22 inch (55.9 cm) and inch (86.4 cm) thick on February 6 and 20, respectively. Over the last two decades, ice thickness varied from over 51 inch (130 cm) to just 25 inch (63.5 cm) at around this time.
Nenana Ice Classic is an Alaska tradition
The Nenana Ice Classics exists since 1917. A tripod that is adjusted to a clock on land serves to determine the time of breakup. Once the ice breaks up, the tripod goes into the river which stops the clock. In the past, the ice went out more frequently in the afternoon than at other times of the day.
I do not participate in this lottery. There is too few information for a reliable forecast. For instance, the water-flow rate, the amount of warm waste-water released by the up-stream power plants into the Chena River. Note that the Chena is a contributor to the Tanana. Other important factors are the depth of the ground-water table, water and ice temperature, glacier-melt rates, snow-thickness on the river, stress and tension in the ice over time, just to mention a few factors that affect the ice stability besides just air temperature and ice thickness.
You can find other Focus Alaska posts on Alaska traditions like, for instance, what is served at a potluck,or the Golden Day parade in celebration of stricking gold, and why Alaskans listen to the weather forecast to determine when to cut their flowers.
What are your state’s traditions? Let me know, I am curious. Send me an email!
The outfit in this post is an alternative for the jeans and sweater on Casual Friday. It is kept simple in red and blue and lets the belt be the star. The red booties and sweater frame the denim skirt with belt.
Tomorrow I will talk about layering and I will be co-hosting a fashion linkup on High Latitude Style. I hope you can stop by to linkup, and please invite your friends. Get a subscription to High Latitude Style to never miss a post.
Photos: G. Kramm (2015)
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