As we go below zero in what would be typically late (latter October) some have been wondering if we will also have an early breakup like last year, where in the Interior most snow was well gone by early April with the El Nina system we had come through! For the past few years Fairbanks has dodged 50 below temps, let alone week long stretches.
Overall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is looking at a small La Nina weather pattern in the Western US, which could create heavy snowfall for the Rockies and Pacific Northwestern states. Mountain areas in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, California, and Canada have already been getting hit with snow. (Even my Front Range Rockies hometown ski area, Arapahoe Basin, opens their slope season this week already!)
In Interior Alaska, this means that most likely we will have colder weather and more snow (at least in the Tanana Valley area). The snow will help to insulate pipes and septic vaults from freezing, yet with colder temps it is hard to know if the extra insulation will be nullified. One thing you may want to do is put hay on top of underground septic tanks. As far as copper water lines that run from wells to the the crawlspace or basement of a house, do not walk or cross over the trench which the connects the pitless to your pressure tank inside. Having traffic over that buried plumbing line can mash down the insulative spacing in the snow on the surface, and thus it can ‘drive down’ the frost to the line itself.
If your copper water supply line comes up and out of the wellhead casing should have a run of heat trace as a solid line along the bottom of the pipe (not ‘wrapped’), and then covered with black foam pip covers and wrapped well with arctic grade electrical tape. The foam covering can then be wrapped with fiberglass lightly, and that put inside a 1’x1′ box of 2 inch blue or pink foam.
We will see what the final forecast will be, yet regardless of frequency hopefully there will be enough insulation from even snow covers throughout the winter!