The fireweed forecast
If you’ve spent even a little time in Alaska during the summer then you’ve probably noticed it … everywhere! We’re talking about fireweed, and it’s almost bloomed to the top.
“When fireweed goes to cotton, summer is soon forgotten.” Winter is on its way out whether you believe that old saying or not, and this year could be a little warmer than normal.
Some say that summer in Alaska has its own clock, and it comes in a very specific shade.
“Magenta. This beautiful magenta that you can’t get anywhere else,” said a woman of the color of fireweed.
For many Alaskans, the appearance of fireweed means summer has arrived. But once the flowers are in full bloom, that means something entirely different.
“It blooms from the bottom and as it grows up and it gets bloomed at the top that means summer’s over, or almost over,” said a woman in downtown Anchorage.
Everyone has their own version of the old wives’ tale. Here’s what some people in Anchorage had to say:
“When the fireweed blooms, fall is beginning.”
“When it’s in full bloom, what is it? Sixty days to snow or 90 days to snow?”
“As tall as it gets, it’s supposed to be that much snow.”
“When it gets to the top the fireweed knows that summer is over and so it has to release all its seed pods, so that it gets into the ground fast enough before winter comes.”
No matter which version you choose to believe — it’s a fact. Summer is on its way out.
“Typically in August we start getting into our rainy spell and that typically marks the end of summer when we start getting into that rainy season,” says National Weather Service meteorologist Matthew Clay.
According to NOAA’s latest seasonal outlook, fall and winter in Alaska could be a little warmer than usual.
“We have this warmer area of sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska right now, and we also have a very strong El Nino, which is also near record. And the combination of these two things is keeping us in a very warm pattern,” Clay said.
Temperatures are expected to rise somewhere above average, which could mean warmer lows, highs or both.
“The numerical models are showing an 80 percent chance of above-normal temperatures through the winter months,” Clay said.
So, get ready. Because when the fireweed clock runs out, summer days are all but over.