The 45th running of the Iditarod sled dog race begins this weekend in Alaska. Earlier in February, the Board of Directors of the Iditarod Trail Committee voted unanimously to move the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race restart location from Willow, which is north of Anchorage, to Fairbanks. This was done due to the poor conditions of critical trail areas in the Alaska Range. This marks the third time in the history of the Iditarod that the restart has been moved to Fairbanks due to poor conditions in the Alaska Range. The first was in 2003, and second in 2015.
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“While some snow did fall east of the Alaska Range over the past couple of weeks, other critical areas along the trail received little snowfall, if any at all, including the trail into Rainy Pass. Additionally, trail conditions leading up to both Ptarmigan Pass and Dalzell Gorge are still considered unsafe at this time for the teams participating in this year’s race.” Iditarod Trail Committee Race Director Mark Nordman said.
— NWS Fairbanks (@NWSFairbanks) March 3, 2017
According to the Alaska Dispatch News, “The endless snow and below-zero temperatures expected for the trail out of Fairbanks are a departure from the comparatively warm days of last year’s race, and the forecast had some mushers bracing for bone-numbing chill.”
— ADN Iditarod (@ADNIditarod) March 3, 2017
More than 78″ of snow has fallen in Fairbanks this year so far, the most in 24 years.
The Fairbanks airport has had 78.4" of snow so far this season. There have only been 9 seasons with more snow through the end of Feb. pic.twitter.com/AqB1M0ThC5
— NWS Fairbanks (@NWSFairbanks) March 1, 2017
A ceremonial start to the race will occur Saturday in Anchorage. Over the weekend, the 72 teams will make the 350 mile trip northward to Fairbanks where the official race will begin on Monday at 11 a.m.
We are ONE hour from the start of the Musher Banquet!
For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Mace Michaels