Alaska Dispatch's Best of the Week: Jan. 19-25, 2013

Craig Medred

The Alaska winter weather has been nothing short of schizophrenic this year -- will it snow? Won't it snow? Will temperatures reach 40 degrees today and dip to minus-10 tomorrow? And while the snow gods seem to have forsaken the 49th state this year, there's a lot of other news going on around Alaska, too.

Anchorage's arts and culture scene is in full swing during the cold winter months, with perennial favorites like "Object Runway" taking place this week at Bear Tooth Theatre, while a classic opera is connecting Alaskans to the timeless story of "Tosca."

Meanwhile the Alaska Legislature is focused on how to avert a winter energy crisis -- and depending on whom you ask, Cook Inlet offers enough gas to keep Southcentral heated for decades to come, or it's dried up and the region is one cold snap away from disaster, according to the utilities that stand to make the most money from such a scenario.

A new airline is bringing hope and competition to the Alaska travel industry; all eyes are on jetBlue and its attempts to normalize Anchorage airfares. Meanwhile, across the Arctic in Norway, Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell this week renewed the call for Alaskans and the rest of the country to focus more time, resources and foreign policy on the ocean north of Alaska, where ice continues to melt, revealing new opportunities and challenges for the world.

Here's a look at some of the biggest stories coming from Alaska and points beyond for the week of Jan. 21, 2013.

  1. 1 Will Arctic offshore oil drilling prove uneconomic in wake of US shale oil boom?

    Shell Oil drilled exploratory wells off Alaska's northwest coast in the 1980s only to abandon the prospects as oil prices went bust. Could shale oil plays across the U.S. doom its latest Arctic program?

  2. 2 For Alyeska dogs, avalanche rescue is just a big game

    Three intrepid Alaska canines on duty at Girdwood's Alyeska Resort have an important job -- but you wouldn't know it by watching them work.

  3. 3 Route planner for jetBlue says Anchorage fares are too high

    What are jetBlue's plans for the Alaska market? Is Alaska Airlines gouging its customers? JetBlue's route planner goes on the record.

  4. 4 State program incentivizes 'Alaskan Grown' produce at restaurants

    Restaurants see it as a way they can afford Alaska produce, which generally is much more expensive, smaller in quantity and harder to get.

  5. 5 Mud wrestling among Alaska Republicans trying to seize GOP's future

    Does Russ Millette want to run the Alaska Republican Party, or does he want to take it over and replace it with some new party?

  6. 6 Object Runway 4: 'Wearable art' sashays back onto Anchorage catwalk this week

    Fifty of Alaska's creative class will strut across the Bear Tooth stage this week in front of a sold-out crowd, wearing art that tells a story or delivers a message -- or maybe just got thrown together in celebration of fashion absurdity that "Object Runway" delivers in spades.

  7. 7 Families of Alaska glacier crash victims make pilgrimage north in search of closure

    Sixty years after a military plane disappeared in the Alaskan wilderness, a churning ice glacier began spitting out wreckage, debris and human remains.

  8. 8 Photos: Anchorage Opera presents Puccini classic, Tosca

    "Tosca" is full of remarkable arias but perhaps it's most well-known is "Vissi d'arte," sung by the opera's protagonist, Tosca, who laments God's abandonment in her most trying time.

  9. 9 Treadwell speaks of obstacles to burgeoning Arctic at Norway conference

    Saying, "This is the age of Arctic shipping the great explorers dreamed of," Treadwell notes that obstacles still exist.  

  10. 10 Fairbanks scientists stunned to find intact 40,000-year-old steppe bison

    University of Alaska researchers found nearly the entire skelton of a steppe bison that died 40,000 years ago in a thawing Alaska river bank.