Friday, January 31, 2014

Bethel Break Up

I spent five years in Bethel, Alaska working as a public defender.  Bethel, Alaska is a town which is, geographically, closer to Siberia than it is to Anchorage (399 miles to the east).  Bethel is located on the banks of the Kuskokwim River and when the river is frozen the only way to get to Bethel is to fly in (unless you have an absolutely hellaciously good all-terrain vehicle or are a fanatical sled dog musher).

Every year there is a major celebration when the ice breaks up.  The townspeople put a device out on the ice, and when the instrument registers movement, it’s party time!!  The break-up festival has been going on since 1924 and has been celebrated (with very few exceptions) every year since.  I offer the following statistics and people who want to argue climate change can make of them what they want.  I will note that the earliest break up Bethel has experienced was April 24th back in 1940 and the latest was June 3rd in 1964.

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