Sun bathers, reptiles emerge in Alaska heat as wildfires spread

Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:57am EDT
 
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By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - With a heat wave gripping Alaska, strange things have been happening under the midnight sun.

Anchorage residents, who a month ago shivered through an unseasonably cold spring and a surprise May snowstorm, have donned swimsuits and depleted stores of fans to ward off record heat in the state's largest city.

Temperatures have run as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, with daytime highs in Anchorage climbing into the 80s in recent days, and the sudden onset of atypical warmth has been blamed for unleashing wildfires and flooding alike.

Moose have been spotted near lawn sprinklers around Anchorage and at least one invaded someone's kiddie pool. Pet reptiles, normally confined to heated indoor spaces because of Alaska's cold outdoors, are making rare public appearances.

Park managers at Goose Lake, one of Anchorage's few outdoor swimming spots, had to eject a pet iguana named "Godzilla," along with some pet snakes and a turtle that patrons brought to the crowded sandy shoreline, said Doreen Hernandez, the city aquatic superintendent who has been working at the site.

Pets are not allowed at Goose Lake for health reasons, although she conceded that the rule is usually applied to dogs.

"We don't have a sign that says `No Snakes,'" she said.

Heat records have been broken around the state, with an all-time record high of 96 degrees reached on Tuesday in Talkeetna, the tiny town famous as the jumping-off site for Mount McKinley expeditions. The previous record high there was 91 degrees.   Continued...