After a long and cold spring Fairbanks finally sees green up

After months of cold, snow and ice, Fairbanks officially experienced green up at 7:37 p.m. on May 16.
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 7:34 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - After months of cold, snow, and ice, Fairbanks officially experienced green up at 7:37 p.m. on May 16.

This year, green up came about 8 days later than the average which is based on around 50 years of data. “No place in Alaska has that kind of record. So, over those fifty years, the average date is May 8,” said Rick Thoman, an Alaska Climate Specialist. Those numbers are based on observations of Chena Ridge which has been used to declare green up for decades.

While green up for 2023 was significantly late, it’s no where close to being the latest green up. “Several years have gone past May 20,” said Thoman. The late green up is primarily the result of cold temperatures in late April and early May. Also, the large quantity of snow pack that remained on the ground is another factor contributing to the late budding.

Despite a cold April in 2023, other years have seen lower temperatures leading into green up. “2013 here in the Fairbanks area was even colder than this year and 1985 in the central and western interior was much colder than this April,” Thoman said.

When green up is early, the roll out tends to be slower with different areas in the interior budding at different times. During a late green up however, “it’s quite likely we’ll see everywhere will green up within a few days of each other,” Thoman said.

While one might conclude the late and massive blooms of a late green up might mean more pollen. This however is not the case. Pollen counts are often mild or strong rotating every other year recently. “For people that are very allergic to Birch pollen that, whatever it’s going to be, whether it’s going to be a big year or a moderate year or a low year, that happens within a couple of days of green up,” said Thoman.

As of May 15, Foundation Health Partners, which provides medical services in Fairbanks, said for most trees species found in the area, the pollen count was either high or very high.