I’m leaving, on a jet plane….to Kodiak, Alaska

Welcome to Kotzebue! We hope your flights aren't cancelled for weeks on end.

Alaska in August is what I’m talking about. Fire season has died down a bit. The sun is shining. Wildlife is roaming. Next week, I’m in Kodiak for two days for an earthquake training and meetings with the City. This will be followed up with meetings with the State of Alaska Emergency Management and the City of Wasilla (yes, that one) in the latter half of the week. This visit will be in complete contrast to my Alaska visit last February….I’m hoping.

I don’t recommend visiting Alaska in February unless you only plan to visit Anchorage. It’s cold and the weather is terribly unpredictable. I was there for FEMA meetings in Kotzebue (just north of the Artic Circle), Cordova, and Valdez (yes, that one). I only made it to Kotzebue where I was stuck for three days due to extreme weather.

Kotzebue, Alaska winds
The winds pick up in Kotzebue, Alaska

Originally I had only planned to be in Kotzebue for 8 hours. I took the early flight to make a 9am meeting. When late afternoon rolled in, flights were cancelled due to a weather front between Anchorage and Kotzebue. Over the next few days I spent most of time at the Bayside Inn and Restaurant where I checked our flight status and ate…a lot. The food was greasy, internet connection was working and, honestly, I didn’t really have another choice. I was staying at the Nullagvik Hotel next door (for the government discounted rate of $200/night) but there was no restaurant and the internet connection was down.

Chewbacca Lives in Anchorage!
Chewbacca Lives in Anchorage!

On my second night, I was almost taken out by aerial plywood. Myself and a guy with the State just finished dinner at the Bayside. The winds were seriously blowing outside but we thought we could make it to our hotel. As we passed the new Nullagvik Hotel being built in between the old Hullagivk and Bayside, plywood and insulation started ripping off the hotel and flying towards us. We hit the ground, waited for a clearing, and ran back to the Bayside. After telling our story to the Bayside employees, a couple of them went outside to verify. It says something when the locals are in shock and awe of the high intense the winds that were blowing. One of them gave us a ride in his truck to our hotel…100 yards away.

The next day the National Weather Service stated that last night’s storm was not a record storm for that area, but it was somewhere in the top 5 percent. That’s like saying we experienced a .00001% chance storm in the lower 48s. I’m just sayin’ it was intense and I was almost dismembered by flying plywood.

Upon returning back to Anchorage on Friday evening, I explored the City and Turnagain Arm until Sunday evening when I was due to fly to Valdez to make my Monday morning meeting. When I arrived at the airport, I was informed that flights to Valdez were cancelled all day Sunday. Later I was informed that flights to Valdez were cancelled all the next day. After seven days in Alaska I wasn’t about to hang around a few extra days to see if I could “make it” to Valdez. I grabbed the next flight home and landed around 3am in Seattle.

I took some video footage from my February visit to Kotzebue. I hope you enjoy them.

Kotzebue, Alaska Videos (February 2011)




Kotzebue, Alaska Photos (February 2011)


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