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Satellite image captures rare day of near cloudless Alaska skies

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Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013 12:09 am | Updated: 9:10 am, Thu Jun 20, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — On a clear day you can see most of Alaska from 438 miles high.

On Monday, the NASA Terra satellite acquired an unusual image of Alaska with hardly a cloud in sight from Cordova to Barrow.

The Southcentral coast is known as one of the cloudiest places in that world, but not on that picture-perfect day.

“The absence of clouds exposed a striking tapestry of water, ice, land, forests and even wildfires,” NASA said in describing this “Image of the Day” on its website.

“The same ridge of high pressure that cleared Alaska’s skies also brought stifling temperatures to many areas accustomed to chilly June days,” the agency said.

“The high temperatures also helped fuel wildfires and hastened the breakup of sea ice in the Chukchi Sea.”

The image was taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer,  aboard a polar satellite that spans the globe every 108 minutes.

The satellite, in orbit since 1999, has equipment that views all points of the  planet every two days or so. It transmits data to a receiving station on the roof of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The Fairbanks station picks up and archives information from the Terra satellite and a similar craft known as Aqua about 15 times per day.


TURNING 100: There will be a party at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Pioneers’ Home main dining room for Zelma Trafton’s 100th birthday. The plan is to have a slide show, music by the Cold Steel Drum group, light refreshments and cake for the occasion. Any of her old friends are invited to stop by and celebrate with her and her family.

A resident of Fairbanks Since 1947, she worked in he business office at the News-Miner from 1950 to 1985.


REUNION PLANS: The West Valley class of 1983 invites former teachers to a picnic at 11 a.m. Saturday in Pioneer Park at the Moose Creek Pavilion, followed by a school tour.

 If anyone has questions they can write to The West Valley reunion starts Friday at 6:30 p.m. with a mixer at Pike’s Landing.

The Lathrop Class of 2003 is getting together this weekend as well. The Lathrop Class of 1983 is meeting on the Fourth of July weekend.

The Lathrop Class of 1963 is hosting its 50-year reunion July 19-21. Classmates and friends from other classes wanting to attend are asked to make reservations before July 1.

Cost per person is $75. Contact Sue Slifer at 455-6605 or email for information and reservations.


RAGING BULL: Without telling the fair office, somebody dropped off a 2-year-old 700-pound bull at the back of the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds, possibly in April. It appears he lived under the bleachers for a time at Sunrise Field and camped out at other places near the back of the property.

“We were thinking someone couldn’t afford to take care of him anymore and thought that we could,” said Jill Falldin, general manager of the fair.

Once the fair staff knew he was there, they kept him fed and tried to find a home for him. When they found a taker in mid-May, the bull refused to go quietly.

He escaped through a small opening in the fence at the vendor parking lot and disappeared. There was a report he had been seen near University Avenue the next day, but he hasn’t been seen at the fairgrounds since.

Dermot Cole can be reached at or




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