Sundown finally comes to northernmost city

Posted: Thursday, August 02, 2001

BARROW (AP) -- Barrow will experience an inescapable sign of approaching winter Thursday when the first sunset in almost three months takes place.

Adam Futterman of the National Weather Service office in Barrow said the sun will set at 2 a.m. and rise 68 minutes later. However, rain was predicted so the sunset might not be visible, he said.

The sun has been above the horizon continuously since May 10, when it last set, rising the same day.

Once the sun starts setting, the days quickly grow shorter. On Friday, the sun is expected to rise at 1:42 a.m. and set at 3:26 a.m., a gain of 36 minutes. By Nov. 18, it will set and not rise again for more than two months.

Futterman said there have been ''some very light'' snow flurries this week, and that early morning temperatures have already begun to dip below freezing.

The more than 1,500 street lights in Barrow are ready for the upcoming darkness, said Ben Frantz, the city's utility manager.

''Weve had a pretty good summer, and the large majority of the lights are ready,'' he said.

Frantz said each light is on its own to determine when to go on. ''Each street light has an electric eye that senses light, and once the light has reduced itself so that the electric eye notices it, the light will go on.''

The local response to the march toward darkness varied. Some elders said they welcome the first sunset, because that means that snow will be coming and there will be less dust blowing around town.

''When the sun first comes up, it is like we are going out of a tunnel,'' said Lester Suvlu, a lifetime Barrow resident. ''And when it starts going down, it is like we are approaching that tunnel again.''

David Slusher said he doesn't pay attention to the sun's schedule.

''I couldnt tell you when the sun first comes up or goes down,'' he said.

Humans aren't the only ones reacting to the sun's extreme cycles. Cyd Hanns of the North Slope Borough Veterinary Clinic said dogs generally are ''out and about more'' after the sun returns to the sky.

''They also tend to bark more when it is light all the time,'' she said. ''Now, just like people, as it gets darker, they will be staying closer to home. And they will also be quieter as well.''

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