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First snow of season falls in Atqasuk

August 18th, 2017 | Shady Grove Oliver Print this article   Email this article  

Disappointment hung over Atqasuk Tuesday morning alongside the snow clouds that had dropped their bounty overnight.

"People got upset when they woke up this morning," said resident Cheryl Kippi.

Locals awoke to the sight of their village blanketed in snow, and while a handful welcomed the surprise, others were worried about what this sign of summer's end would bring.

"Actually a whole bunch of women are pretty upset about the snow because they weren't done berry-picking," she said. "They felt like the season's over."

The frost and cold temperatures can ruin berries still on the bush, making them not good for eating. Kippi herself had only gone out picking once and her mother, who is also her babysitter, hadn't had much of a chance to go out yet.

"I don't know how I'm going to respond to her when I see her this afternoon," she said.

It's an early snowfall, even for the Slope, and is part of the first wave of fall and winter weather hitting the U.S. this year.

"Last year, everyone was berry-picking up until September, so this year is pretty early," said Kippi.

Rain and snow and patchy fog was expected for Atqasuk through midweek, with conditions returning to dry and cloudy by the weekend, according to Tuesday's National Weather Service forecast.

Some residents in Utqiaġvik said they saw a little bit of snow or heavy frost on the windshields of their cars early in the week, as well.

The weather service had initially been predicting potentially significant snowfall over the weekend in areas of the western Brooks Range, though most saw only about two to three inches by the early part of the week.

Back in Atqasuk, residents were determined to make the best of the white weather with tiny snowmen popping up on cars and porches around town, concerns about frosted berries aside. After all, cold is always right around the corner up here.

"Yeah, it looks like winter's coming," Kippi said.


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