It is getting…cold again

No need for an explanation here. This is Tok, Alaska.

The Dangers of Low Humidity

Last year I blogged about how dry winters could be in these parts. I even had a doctor in Fairbanks compare the humidity levels in Interior Alaska, particularly in winter, to what astronauts experience in space.

Lately, I’ve been getting headaches, blurry vision and having trouble concentrating. I was concerned it was low levels of carbon monoxide (I’ve had my own CO scare several years back – you can read about the terrible ordeal here).

I did what any person with an Internet connection would do. I Googled. What I found was some pretty clear evidence that the low humidity level is obscenely low and most likely the cause of some pretty significant health issues.

I learned the the optimal relative humidity level for human comfort and health is anywhere from 30% to 50%.

A relative humidity level for an arid desert is 25%.

The humidity level in my home? 2%. Yes – TWO PERCENT.

Here are some of the results of low humidity:

1. Severe static electricity resulting in powerful shocks. CHECK. The static is so bad that I get shocks when I touch my computer, and it often causes my computer to freeze up.

2. Furniture dries out and cracks. CHECK.

3. Severe dry, itchy, red, flaky skin and cracked lips. CHECK.

4. Dry hair, split ends. CHECK.

5. Dry, itchy eyes. CHECK.

6. Sinus irritation, bloody noses, and respiratory problems. CHECK

7. Affects the human body’s ability to get oxygen and can cause headaches, migraines and lethargy. CHECK

8. Affects pets with all of the above.

The cure? A humidifier can do wonders. Even a vaporizer could help relieve some of these irritating symptoms. And the irony is that this house is a rental and came with an enormous humidifier in one of the closets, but we’ve never thought to use it. It’s coming out of the closet  now.

Additional reading: Humidifiers – Mayo Clinic

Have you been affected by extreme climates? What happened and what did you do?

The Aurora Above Tok

Last night, the aurora was active around 10 o’clock at night.

If you’ve never seen the Aurora Borealis, depending on how clear and intense it is, it can look like a glow stick has been emptied into the dark night sky and is flowing across the sky, back and forth, up and down, around, in and out. It can have an otherworldly feel to the way it moves, like alien lights, alive and dancing.

Here’s an image we took looking above our house from our driveway at the greenish glow.

Nature’s laser light show!

As Summer Warms Our Bones…

Let us not forget the winters. Makes our summers that much sweeter…

How is your summer going so far?

Things Under the Ice and Snow

As the warmer weather begins to melt the ice and snow, lost items from last summer are revealed.

Found in the vegetable garden bed.

What are you finding under the snow?

-44 Degrees Again in Tok

Enough said…

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

Winterpocalypse Pics

Because every day is a winterpocalypse in these parts (compared to other parts)…

The Snowman Takes a Bow

With the warmer weather the other week came a little melting of things, including our snowman.

Then the temperature dropped again so he is now solidly frozen in a bowing position.

He’s not budging, most likely for the rest of the winter, unless we get another warm snap.

Winter Driving in Tok

The other week we had a “heat wave” which created more frozen rain than snow. A thick icy crust coated everything, including car windshields. Not exactly conducive for safe driving but couldn’t get the car warm enough to melt it off and couldn’t chip it off with an ice scraper.

Wonder if they make ice scrapers in titanium…

Tok Alaska Winters are So Dry…

…How dry are they?

Winters are so dry here that

  • you can’t consume enough water in the day to make up for the moisture you lose. Even the requisite 8 glasses a day barely makes a dent.
  • the only place drier is outer space. (Just saw a doctor in Fairbanks who pretty much addressed all that has been ailing me since I moved to Tok and said that doctors in Fairbanks treat their patients with an eye toward what astronauts do to address the dry climate. Only Minnesota comes close).
  • you tend to get chronic sinus infections each winter. Long timers are seemingly immune so at some point your body must get used to these abnormal conditions although chronic nosebleeds are common.
  • you wake up every morning with dry mouth, dry tongue, dry throat, dry cough.
  • your hands and feet feel like sandpaper and no amount of moisturizer seems to bring relief.
  • the doctors in Fairbanks recommend slathering your body with Vaseline or Eucerin after every shower. I’ve been avoiding petroleum products for many years but am tempted to try this because I can’t bear the parchment dry skin.
  • you get a shock every single time you touch a light switch.
  • your computer can freeze up to a dozen times a day because of static electricity surges.
  • anti-static dryer sheets can only do so much because the static electricity is so powerful.
  • humidifiers can burn out struggling to keep up and have only a minimal effect on the atmosphere moisture here.
  • all the snow on the ground has little to no impact on the moisture levels in the air.
  • you leave Interior Alaska for a few days and suddenly 90% of the symptoms you were experiencing chronically for weeks or months disappear.

This is what I’ve been going through but until this past week, nobody in Tok mentioned these issues because I think everyone – including the health practitioners – just take it as a given.

Now that I know what the problems seem to be, I can work toward being creative with solutions.

One thing the doctor in Fairbanks gave me was Ponaris sinus emollient that had been used by NASA. In 24 hours, my sinuses went from inflamed and parched to normal.

What are remedies you’ve heard about for very, very, very dry climates?

Low Sun Low

The sun is low in the sky in winter, but it makes for a good photo!

The mornings are still dark, the afternoons dusky. Such is winter in Alaska.

Have any great sunrise or sunset pics to share? Link to them here!

Downtown Tok Alaska, Winter 2009

It is so warm here this holiday season, like 15 below to zero degrees. I’m not even wearing a hat or gloves most days. Last year this time I was afraid to carry my toddler out to the car for fear her lungs would freeze in the 60 below and colder weather.

But there is still snow everywhere and will be for months. And months.

Here are a few scenes from “downtown Tok” this past weekend.

That last pic was around 10:45 a.m. with the sun just coming up over the mountains in the distance. It may not be cold here, but boy it sure is dark.

How are you faring this winter?