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Craig Medred

The modern day wizards of weather know exactly why the climate conspired to unleash February rain and floods on Alaska -- a state once mocked across the nation as " Seward's Icebox ," is now proclaimed as the climate-friendy "place to be" in the 21st century by The New York Times.

Blame an aberrant jet stream that has taken to swirling south from Asia into the Pacific Ocean tropics, where it grabs a load of warm, moist air and then heads north to deliver it to Alaska, with predictable results...

Craig Medred

As a gang of Alaska snowmachine racers Wednesday celebrated their arrival at the Nome halfway point of the 2,000-mile Iron Dog wilderness race, a couple of competitors from Outside were 115 miles back along the Iditarod Trail in Golovin trying to repair a pair of snowmachines that Tuesday went down like submarines.

Dieter Strobel from Minnesota and Randy Gravatt from Idaho were just lucky that when their ships sank the water was only about waist deep -- if you can call being up to your waist in water in 15-degree temperatures lucky...

Craig Medred

Dried out after a night in the tiny, riverside community of McGrath in Alaska's normally frigid Interior, the leaders in the 2,000 mile Iron Dog snowmachine race were paddling north again today into one of the weirdest Februarys in recent history.

Having spun their way over bare ground and flooded trail north of the Alaska Range after leaving Big Lake on Sunday, the race leader awoke Monday to what promised to be another wet and mushy day on the trail. The 10 a.m. temperature in McGrath was 37 degrees. Just to be clear for Alaskans, that would be 37 degrees above zero. The average low for McGrath on this date is 8 degrees below zero. The record low for the date is 48 degrees below zero...

Craig Medred
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More like Iron Ducks than Iron Dogs, the teams of snowmachines racing in what is supposed to be the world's longest, toughest snowmobile race were paddle-tracking their way through the Alaska Range late Sunday afternoon...

Craig Medred

More like iron ducks than Iron Dogs, the teams of snowmachines racing in what is supposed to be the world's longest, toughest snowmobile race were paddle-tracking their way through the Alaska Range late Sunday afternoon.

Never in the 31-year history of the 2,000-mile epic race had anyone seen anything like this. On a balmy day, racers started at two-minute intervals down a water-covered chute at Big Lake north of Anchorage and then slush-cupped their way north.

"Looks like we're going to get our feet wet," Brett Lapham, a rookie from Willow, said just before the start. More than feet were wet before the day was over...

Craig Medred

What's worse than a bitterly cold, subzero Alaska winter? A strangely warm one.

Iron Dog racers leaving Big Lake Sunday for the start of a 2,000-mile snowmachine race north to Nome and then on to Fairbanks appear to be heading into an adventure of biblical proportions -- think Moses and the great flood.

Photos of the Iditarod Trail posted to social media by Iron Dog trail riders show snowmachines stuck in open rivers and floundering in flooded timber in the Alaska Range. Further inland, Iron Dog officials have been forced to reroute the trail following the Yukon River at Galena and go overland to Nulato because of dangerous, open water...

Craig Medred

Footloose Nelchina herd caribou are messing up end-of-winter hunting in parts of the Alaska Interior, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Usually content to stay south of the Alaska Range, the Nelchina animals this year have wandered far north and into the Yukon River valley range of the Fortymile herd.

That has forced a hunt closure along the Taylor Highway north of Tok even though about 50 caribou remain to be harvested to reach the hunt's quota.

"The southern portion of (hunt) Zone 3 remains closed because large numbers of Nelchina herd caribou are still present," the agency said in a Thursday press release. "Southern Zone 3 will open if the Nelchina caribou herd leaves the area.''...

Craig Medred

America's national parks drew tourists in record numbers last summer, according to the U.S. National Park Service, but most of the agency's Alaska units remain starved for attention. The five least-visited parks in the 49th state attracted fewer than 2,000 visitors total in 2014, according to agency numbers, and three of the parks -- all in the Northwest Arctic -- actually posted goose eggs in the visitor column. John Quinley, Alaska region spokesman for the Park Service, is sure someone visited Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Kobuk Valley National Park and the Noatak National Preserve. It's just that they didn't get counted, he said....

Craig Medred

Dog mushers might have abandoned the Iditarod Trail in favor of an easier route north to Nome this year, but snowmachine and human-powered racers say they're still following the historical path over the Alaska Range from Cook Inlet to the Interior.

"For us, it's doable," Kevin Kastner, the director of the Iron Dog snowmachine race, said Wednesday. "There's all kinds of challenges for us, (but) nobody said this is the easiest race in the world."...

Craig Medred

(Video courtesy Andrea Huisman)

Forget his crippling canine deformities -- little General is one lucky dog. In the Alaska of old, his life would have been measured in hours. In the wild, he might have made it a day or two until his mother discovered he couldn't walk...

Craig Medred

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