Barrow residents see sun for last time this year

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2001

BARROW (AP) -- The sun set on Barrow Sunday for the last time this year.

The sun won't rise again until Jan. 23, according to the National Weather Service Office in Barrow. Donovan Price, manager of the Barrow office, said the sun would rise Sunday at 12:43 p.m. and set 58 minutes later at 1:41 p.m.

Even that brief appearance could be missed by many.

''The forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies,'' Price said.

Jerry Nordstrom, a clinical supervisor with the North Slope Borough Health Department Counseling Center, said Seasonal Affective Disorder, or ''SAD,'' can be a real problem.

''SAD affects mostly everyone but on a fairly wide scale,'' he said. ''Some don't even notice it, but others may reach the point where they cannot function.''

He said studies show that SAD cases increase the farther north you go in the United States.

''In south Florida, it is about 18 percent,'' he said. ''In Alaska the serious cases run around 30 percent or more.''

While there is no specific data for Barrow, Nordstrom said it's possible cases are even higher because of the total lack of sun for over two months.

Nordstrom said people can deal with SAD by remaining active through the winter

''Be active in sports and your regular activities, and keep up your routines,'' he said. Light therapy and herbs also can be helpful.

Kathleen Murphy has lived in Barrow for eight years. She said she tries to remain positive when the sun goes down below the horizon for winter

''In total,'' she said, ''the sun in Barrow is continually above the horizon in summer longer than it is below the horizon in winter,'' she said.

Tina Wolgemuth said she's trying to find a way to explain the absence of the sun to her 3-year-old daughter.

''This year, for the first time, around 5 p.m., she asks me, 'Mommy, is it time to go to bed?' She just doesn't understand why it is dark so early. I've been trying to find some answers for her.''

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