WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory (AP) -- Frank Turner has been running the Yukon Quest sled dog race for 19 years, and the 2003 race has him worried.
''Now I'm getting a little concerned about the Quest myself,'' he said Wednesday, before Thursday night's dump of wet snow in Whitehorse.
Turner lives near the Takhini River, which he said had stopped flowing earlier; usually indicating the next process will be its freezing. Just a few days ago, though, the Takhini River started flowing again.
The warm weather has continued throughout the fall, with next to no snow on the ground. Turner said his property is typically a little colder than the city is, but it still doesn't look good from any long-range weather forecast.
Bill Miller, the weather service specialist with Environment Canada, told the Whitehorse Star that it's predicted that December will have higher temperatures than usual.
Much of the Quest is over large bodies of water like the Yukon River, which have yet to freeze. Turner's dogs, who are a little bigger than the average racing dogs, tend to cope better with colder temperatures.
David Rich, the race manager for the 2003 Yukon Quest, is hoping the weather will change in time for the Feb. 9 race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks.
''We hope Mother Nature will cooperate,'' Rich said.
In the various years Rich has been involved in the Quest, he hasn't seen a winter as warm as this one. From 1995 to 1998, Rich was the race marshal in the Quest each year, and in 2001, he was the director of the Junior Yukon Quest.
''It's always a gamble,'' he said.
Rich said that there were two years where the race finished early, at the Takhini Hot Springs, due to the warm weather affecting the condition of the trail.
Because there's so much to plan before the race begins, the Quest organization is working with the assumption winter will be in full-force by race time.
Turner also remembers the 1984 Quest, when the race came to a halt in Carmacks and mushers and their dogs trucked to Fox Lake to resume the contest because of warm weather.
Generally, the winters that stand out for Yukoners are those that are extremely cold or extremely warm. This is becoming one of those years that people remember, Turner said.
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