Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Termination Dust

When I first read the Alaskan slang phrase "termination dust," I couldn't imagine what it meant. But I figured it had to be something fairly ominous.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
As it turns out, termination dust refers to the first light dusting of snow up in the mountains each autumn. It signals the termination of summer and the start of the very long winter. The dusting is also a reminder, or a warning, that the first big snow is right around the corner.

In Fairbanks, the first snow typically falls in September and the snowpack is usually established by the middle of October and remains until May.

With snow covering the ground for that long, I can understand why the Alaskans mark the first signs of snow as a "termination." I know if I lived there I would hate to see the summer end.



My A-Z theme of Alaska is inspired by my debut novel, Polar Night, which is set in Fairbanks and the Alaskan Arctic. Click here for all the info on the book.



36 comments:

  1. I learned something new today. I guess where I live we should call the first dusting of pollen termination dust, as it signifies the end of pleasant weather and the arrival of hot, humid summer.

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  2. It does sound more ominous and science-fiction like than what it actually is. :)

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  3. I always say that I love snow, but that would be too much snow for me . . .I love summer too much for it to be snowy that long.

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  4. Those summers try to make up for being short by providing long, long days. Still termination of those warm hours would be hard to face.

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  5. Snow in September? No thank you. Those are some tough folks up there.

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  6. @Alex, oh, I feel the same way about the pollen here! I hate the heat and humidity so much.

    @Madeline, doesn't it? LOL.

    @Lynda, I agree.

    @Tyrean, I wouldn't want that kind of snow either, but then I hate the humidity in the summer so I guess I'm never satisfied LOL.

    @Lee, I agree.

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  7. @Tim, I wouldn't want that either. September and October are always my favorite months because I love fall, I wouldn't want to jump right to winter.

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  8. What a beautiful pic....

    Hey we are COLD in Chicago until May... So what's the big deal. LOL. Actually there was snow just the other day. YUK...

    I am still waiting to see the temps rise... I am staying in Florida until they do. LOL.

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  9. Now, that was a big surprise, as I expected something evil and ominous, too.

    And backing up a bit, love your Day Q word.

    Barbara
    T is for Triple Play: Two Teasers and Time's Running Out
    The Daille-y News

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  10. I had no idea Alaskan's called the first dusting of snow termination...that is so...well...final sounding. :) Have a great day :)

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  11. That's a beautiful picture, Julie. And now that I'm seeing your book I just remembered I dreamed with it. Very odd dream. I saw the dragon cave filled with dozens of copies of your book. Don't know what it means, unless it means I get the dwarves to buy their copy. :)

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  12. @Michael, I can't believe there was more snow in Chicago, glad I don't live there.

    @Barbara, thanks!

    @Rebecca, thanks, I hope you're having a great day as well.

    @Al, oh, I think the dwarves should definitely all buy copies! LOL what a funny dream. :)

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  13. After seeing the title, I too was pleasantly surprised. I agree that summer is definitely the best time in Alaska.

    Julie

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  14. How cool! I love that term. I may use that one in a poem!

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  15. We have a long winter, too. What makes it tolerable is a lot of sun, and the snow rarely sticks long. I don't think I could handle that much snow pack that long.

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  16. I'd love to visit Alaska. I'm not sure I am hardy enough to live there, but I'd love to visit.

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  17. What an amazing word to describe the end of summer.

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  18. @Julie, definitely.

    @Regina, oh, if you do I definitely want to read that poem. :)

    @Mary, I know I couldn't, I'm a total wuss as it is.

    @Elizabeth, my thoughts exactly.

    @Susan, isn't it? I loved it.

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  19. I think seeing that first dusting would sound termination warnings to my sun-loving, heat-seeking soul.

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  20. That's an interesting term. I'm learning so much here!

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  21. I love the sound of this phrase... so quaint!

    Writer In Transit

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  22. I love the sound of this phrase... so quaint!

    Writer In Transit

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  23. Wow- October to May?!?!! Looooonnnngg winter!!

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  24. Hmm. I guess I'd think of it in such ominous terms as well. ;)

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  25. It sure does sound quite grim! Alaska sounds perfect for me - only 4 months of warmer weather!

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  26. Seems funny to have termination dust be the first snow of the season. Here in Northern Colorado I'd just like to see the termination of winter.

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  27. It sounds like an extreme term, yet fitting. Although I like the cold, I'd want the summer to last longer.

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  28. This is my first time hearing the term "termination dust." What a cool phrase! Your blog keeps teaching me so many neat things this month. :)

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  29. @Christine, me too. :)

    @Michelle, I love it too, I'd love to find a way to work it into something.

    @Sheena, I thought so too.

    @Morgan, way too long for me LOL.

    @Laura, definitely. :D

    @Trisha, you should try to relocate!

    @Patricia, I can imagine, I can't believe your winter is still going strong there.

    @Medeia, me too, no question.

    @Heather, I'm so glad! :)

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  30. Termination dust also became synonymous with the quick exit of the new comers (cheechako), as they terminated their employment. When the cold temperatures hit and the snow showed, early most couldn’t leave Alaska fast enough. I had a hard time getting a loan on my first car because the bank thought I would run at the first signs of winter too. If my boss hadn’t put in a good word for me I’d have been hitchhiking all winter too.

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  31. @Yolanda, oh, how interesting! Thanks for sharing that!

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  32. I've never heard this term and me who has a friend living in Alaska LOL. This is a great theme so far. I'm going to have to go back and read all the posts that I have missed.

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  33. @Melissa, oh, thanks! It's been a fun theme to do. :)

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Thank you for your comments!