Photo series: A Hollings intern's trip to document weather impacts in rural Alaska

This photo series documents a trip I took from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Eagle, Alaska, a town of 200 on the Yukon River, during my 2022 Hollings internship.

Jacob stands in safety vest on an overpass and smiles at the camera. River rapids flow under the overpass. The river is surrounded by low vegetation that shifts into an evergreen forest, which appears to spread all the way to cover mountains in the distance.
Jacob Feuerstein, a 2021 Hollings scholar, prepares to fix a river gage at Denali National Park during a trip to interview officials in and around Denali, Alaska, about weather impacts. (Edward Plumb)

My trip took me deep into the Alaska wilderness and into rural communities where I interviewed dozens of National Weather Service (NWS) partners, such as emergency personnel and public safety officials, to learn about past impacts of weather events. Using the information I gathered, along with computer programming and mapping work in the programs Python and ArcGIS, I developed an impact catalog. NWS uses catalogs such as these to create impact-based programming for partners to help them mitigate and respond to future weather events. 

The drive in, and the night spent at the Riverside Hotel, was likely the most beautiful experience of my life — perched on the Yukon, I was taken with wonder. Later, I would learn that the Yukon had flooded and destroyed the town of Eagle years earlier, a most heart-wrenching impact to enter into the catalog.

A black and white photo. A nearly empty, grassy parking lot abuts against a wide, calm river. The river bends against a rocky mountain dotted with evergreens and flows into the horizon towards a distant mountain range. A truck and two vans are tucked into the left side of the parking lot, and lend the photo a sense of being taken out of time because they are in good condition, but with a decades old style.
The Yukon River flows into the horizon, as seen from the Riverside Hotel in Eagle, Alaska, where Jacob stayed during his 2022 Hollings internship. (Jacob Feuerstein/Hollings scholar)
Black and white photo of a calm lake disturbed only by a ring of spreading ripples. The lake is surrounded by vast evergreen forest and low, rolling mountains meet an overcast sky in the distance.
A lake, seen from a rest stop Jacob stopped at on the drive from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Tok, Alaska. (Jacob Feuerstein/Hollings scholar)
Black and white photo of a two lane road that bends to the right, separating a forest of short, but dense evergreens rising along a gentle incline to the right. The forest extends in the background, eventually blending into foggy rolling mountains. Multiple tire tracks cut across the road, suggesting wide turns.
Hills crowd the skyline above a bend in the road just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, which Jacob drove along. (Jacob Feuerstein/Hollings scholar)
A black and white photo of a forest of evergreens closely surround a narrow river. The calmness and dark color of the river, and its clean shoreline against the forest makes the river look similar to a narrow road. Beyond the river bend, the forest expands over mountains in the distance.
A river valley crowded with tree growth, seen on Jacob's drive from Chicken, Alaska, to Eagle, Alaska. (Jacob Feuerstein/Hollings scholar)
Black and white photo of a narrow dirt road surrounded by shrubs on a rocky mountain side that transitions into an evergreen forest. The thin, short evergreens form nearly evenly spaced points along the mountainside. On the left, ridges and valleys run towards the top of the mountain. Trees appear to be more densely packed in the valleys, which creates an appearance of stripes of dense and bare forest.
A bend in the dirt road Jacob traveled on through portions of his drive from Chicken, Alaska, to Eagle, Alaska. (Jacob Feuerstein/Hollings scholar)
A black and white photo. The evergreen trees rise to thin, nearly bare points. The snow on the mountains runs along valleys that rise towards the mountain tops.
A tree-filled valley rises into snow-capped mountains, with the view clouded by smoke, seen on Jacob's drive from Chicken, Alaska, to Eagle, Alaska. (Jacob Feuerstein/Hollings scholar)
A black and white photo on an evergreen forest just beyond an area of wildflowers near the front of the photo. The trees appear nearly evenly spaced, spread out along rolling mountains. A river can just be see tucked inside of a steep valley.
A second river valley crowded with tree growth, seen on Jacob's drive from Chicken, Alaska to Eagle, Alaska. (Jacob Feuerstein/Hollings scholar)
Headshot of Jacob
Jacob Feuerstein, 2021 Hollings scholar

Jacob Feuerstein is a 2021 Hollings scholar and atmospheric science major at the Cornell University.