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AK Beat: Alaska weather forecasters send Congress a message about paychecks

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch
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Alaska forecasters beg Congress for paychecks: An Anchorage National Weather Service forecast early Friday went out in the form of an acrostic (writing set up in such a way that the first letter of each line spells out words vertically) that spelled, “Please pay us." Perhaps through a tip-off, screengrabs of the federal worker’s apparently not-so-hidden message went viral, bouncing around Facebook pages and Twitter. By Friday afternoon, the forecasters on shift at the Anchorage office were less than excited about answering what one described as “a lot” of phone calls seeking comment about the message and the subsequent reformatting that removed the message. “Since we’re in the shutdown, we can only address questions that deal with current weather and forecasts, so at this point, that’s all you’re going to get,” said a man who would only identify himself as the weather service’s on-duty lead forecaster. (And now for the weather: National Weather Service meteorologist Kimberly Hoeppner said the sunny skies in Anchorage were expected to remain until afternoon Saturday, when a weather system would move into the area, possibly bringing rain overnight Saturday to Sunday. While residents in colder parts of Alaska could see the first serious snow of winter soon, snowfall is not in the seven-day forecast for Anchorage, Hoeppner said.)

Seward mariners rescued by helicopter: A Coast Guard helicopter plucked two men from the edge of Resurrection Bay when their 22-foot boat sank and left them clinging to a rock Thursday night, the Coast Guard said in a statement. The men had one flotation device and a satellite phone they used to call for help, but by the time a Coast Guard cutter, Seward Fire Department and good Samaritan vessels arrived, the men were on a beach and the boats could not reach them. The Coast Guard called in an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, which hoisted the uninjured men aboard Friday and flew them to Seward, the Coast Guard said. Other mariners have been warned about an obstruction in Resurrection Bay due to the still-capsized boat.

Juneau Empire reporter called to testify: An editorial from the Juneau Empire urges local courts to "leave reporters out of it" after a court reporter with the Empire was called to testify in a case she'd been covering. Reporter Emily Russo Miller was working the trial of Jesse H. Boone, on trial for two alleged attacks, when Miller reported that one of the women Boone was accused of attacking broke down following testimony, lying on the ground crying outside the courtroom. Miller was subsequently subpoenaed by the defense to testify about the incident. The Empire's stance concludes that Miller was "compelled" to testify, and expressed concern that the reporter missed some of the proceedings while consulting with her bosses at the Empire and the paper's attorney. 

Air Force's F-35 announcement postponed: The federal shutdown has forced the Air Force to delay releasing the criteria it will use to determine where to base a squadron of new F-35 Lightning jets.  On Wednesday, Eielson Air Force Base learned it would not lose its unit of fighter aircraft, the 22 F-16’s of the 18th Aggressor Squadron – is thought to be in the running for the planes.  The stealth Lockheed Martin F-35 is the latest and most advanced jet in the Air Force’s arsenal. Each jets costs between $150 and $200 million 

Coastal Trail as 'great public space': The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage has landed a spot on the nation’s Top 10 list of “Great Public Spaces,” compiled by the American Planning Association. In addition to the most popular trail in Alaska's largest city, the list of great public spaces includes such landmarks as Grand Central Terminal in New York, Grand Park in Los Angeles, Forest Park in St. Louis and Norman B. Leventhal Park in Boston. The announcement comes even as significant portions of the trail were shut down much of the summer for resurfacing. That work was finished earlier this month.

Bristol Bay fishing lodge burns down: Intricate Bay Lodge, a small fly-fishing lodge in Bristol Bay near the Copper and Gibraltar rivers, was destroyed in a fire early Friday morning, according to Alaska State Troopers. A caller told troopers at 8:25 a.m. that the remote lodge was fully engulfed in flames. An Iliamna-based trooper flew to the lodge and determined everyone escaped the blaze without injuries. Investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s office are headed to the scene to launch an investigation.  

No endangered listing for Alaska seabird: According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has rejected a bid filed by the Center for Biological Diversity to have the Kittlitz's murrelet, a "small chubby seabird" whose range extends from the Southeast Panhandle to Russia, listed under the Endangered Species Act. The murrelet was one of three Alaska species on the docket to have its listing potential examined, along with the yellow-billed loon and the Pacific walrus. The Fish and Wildlife Service said in its finding that although the murrelet population had experienced a sharp decline, it has leveled off significantly.

Alaskans take to Facebook to lament shutdown: Communications Daily says Alaskans are right up there with East Coast residents when it comes to using Facebook to mull over the government shutdown. Citing a Facebook spokeswoman, the newsletter says: “Users in D.C. are talking more than others, followed by Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Alaska and Arkansas.”