Homer, Alaska

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Homer
Tuggeght
Downtown Homer seen from Beluga Slough
Downtown Homer seen from Beluga Slough
Flag of Homer
Motto(s): 
Where the land ends and the sea begins
Location of Homer, Alaska
Location of Homer, Alaska
Coordinates: 59°38′35″N 151°31′33″W / 59.64306°N 151.52583°W / 59.64306; -151.52583Coordinates: 59°38′35″N 151°31′33″W / 59.64306°N 151.52583°W / 59.64306; -151.52583
CountryUnited States
StateAlaska
BoroughKenai Peninsula
IncorporatedMarch 31, 1964[1]
Government
 • MayorKen Castner
 • State senatorGary Stevens (R)
 • State rep.Sarah Vance (R)
Area
 • Total25.25 sq mi (65.41 km2)
 • Land13.79 sq mi (35.71 km2)
 • Water11.47 sq mi (29.70 km2)
Elevation
95 ft (29 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total5,003
 • Estimate 
(2019)[3]
5,922
 • Density429.54/sq mi (165.84/km2)
Time zoneUTC−9 (Alaska (AKST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−8 (AKDT)
ZIP code
99603
Area code(s)907
FIPS code02-33140
GNIS feature ID1413141
Websitewww.ci.homer.ak.us

Homer (Dena'ina: Tuggeght) is a city in Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is 218 mi (351 km) southwest of Anchorage. According to the 2010 Census, the population is 5,003, up from 3,946 in 2000. Long known as the "Halibut Fishing Capital of the World", Homer is also nicknamed "the end of the road", and more recently, "the cosmic hamlet by the sea".

Geography[edit]

Homer is located at 59°38'35" North, 151°31'33" West (59.643059, −151.525900).[4] The only road into Homer is the Sterling Highway.[5]

Homer is on the shore of Kachemak Bay on the southwest side of the Kenai Peninsula. Its distinguishing feature is the Homer Spit, a narrow 4.5 mi (7.2 km) long gravel bar that extends into the bay, on which is located the Homer Harbor.

Much of the coastline, as well as the Homer Spit, sank dramatically during the Good Friday earthquake in March 1964. After the earthquake, very little vegetation was able to survive on the Homer Spit.

The town has a total area of 25.5 square miles (66 km2), of which 15 square miles (39 km2) are land and 10.5 square miles (27 km2) are covered by water.[6]

Climate[edit]

As with much of South-central Alaska, Homer has a moderate subarctic coastal climate (Köppen Dsc), which causes its weather to be moderate compared to interior Alaska. Winters are snowy and long, but not particularly cold, considering the latitude, with the average January high only slightly below freezing. The annual snowfall averages 50 inches (127 cm) per season, falling primarily from November through March, with some accumulation in October and April but rarely in May. Homer receives only about 25 inches of rainfall annually due to the influence of the Chugach Mountains to the southeast, which shelter it from the Gulf of Alaska. Seven days have a minimum 0 °F (−18 °C) or below annually, and Homer falls in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6a.[7] Summers are cool due to the marine influence, with 75 °F (24 °C) maxima or minima remaining at or above 55 °F (13 °C) being extremely rare. Extreme temperatures have ranged from −24 °F (−31 °C) on January 28–29, 1989, up to 81 °F (27 °C) on July 10, 1993.[8]

Climate data for Homer, Alaska (Airport), 1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1932–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 57
(14)
53
(12)
54
(12)
65
(18)
72
(22)
80
(27)
81
(27)
78
(26)
69
(21)
64
(18)
58
(14)
52
(11)
81
(27)
Mean maximum °F (°C) 44.1
(6.7)
44.1
(6.7)
45.5
(7.5)
53.8
(12.1)
62.5
(16.9)
67.3
(19.6)
69.0
(20.6)
69.5
(20.8)
62.3
(16.8)
54.7
(12.6)
46.9
(8.3)
45.0
(7.2)
71.5
(21.9)
Average high °F (°C) 30.8
(−0.7)
32.7
(0.4)
36.6
(2.6)
44.1
(6.7)
51.8
(11.0)
57.8
(14.3)
61.2
(16.2)
60.9
(16.1)
55.0
(12.8)
44.6
(7.0)
35.5
(1.9)
33.0
(0.6)
45.4
(7.4)
Daily mean °F (°C) 24.8
(−4.0)
26.2
(−3.2)
29.9
(−1.2)
37.0
(2.8)
44.5
(6.9)
50.6
(10.3)
54.6
(12.6)
53.9
(12.2)
48.1
(8.9)
38.1
(3.4)
29.5
(−1.4)
27.1
(−2.7)
38.7
(3.7)
Average low °F (°C) 18.8
(−7.3)
19.8
(−6.8)
23.2
(−4.9)
29.8
(−1.2)
37.1
(2.8)
43.5
(6.4)
48.0
(8.9)
46.9
(8.3)
41.1
(5.1)
31.6
(−0.2)
23.5
(−4.7)
21.1
(−6.1)
32.1
(0.1)
Mean minimum °F (°C) −0.8
(−18.2)
2.1
(−16.6)
8.5
(−13.1)
18.6
(−7.4)
29.3
(−1.5)
36.0
(2.2)
41.0
(5.0)
38.6
(3.7)
29.9
(−1.2)
19.2
(−7.1)
8.3
(−13.2)
3.4
(−15.9)
−5.7
(−20.9)
Record low °F (°C) −24
(−31)
−19
(−28)
−21
(−29)
−9
(−23)
6
(−14)
27
(−3)
34
(1)
31
(−1)
20
(−7)
0
(−18)
−7
(−22)
−16
(−27)
−24
(−31)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.63
(67)
1.71
(43)
1.65
(42)
1.07
(27)
0.82
(21)
0.82
(21)
1.55
(39)
2.34
(59)
3.31
(84)
2.57
(65)
2.79
(71)
3.08
(78)
24.34
(618)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 9.1
(23)
9.6
(24)
7.0
(18)
1.9
(4.8)
trace 0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
2.6
(6.6)
7.0
(18)
10.2
(26)
47.4
(120)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 14.9 11.5 10.7 9.9 9.3 9.4 11.9 13.8 15.9 14.3 13.8 15.8 151.2
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.0 6.4 5.2 1.9 0.1 0 0 0 0 2.2 5.4 7.6 36.8
Average relative humidity (%) 79.7 78.0 74.0 73.8 74.2 76.2 80.2 81.6 81.4 78.5 78.9 79.4 78.0
Average dew point °F (°C) 17.4
(−8.1)
18.7
(−7.4)
21.6
(−5.8)
27.7
(−2.4)
35.4
(1.9)
42.3
(5.7)
47.8
(8.8)
47.8
(8.8)
42.3
(5.7)
31.3
(−0.4)
23.0
(−5.0)
19.0
(−7.2)
31.2
(−0.4)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 93 141.3 186 240 279 270 248 186 150 124 90 62 2,069.3
Mean daily sunshine hours 3 5 6 8 9 9 8 6 5 4 3 2 6
Percent possible sunshine 43 54 50 55 52 48 45 39 39 40 39 33 45
Average ultraviolet index 0 0 1 3 4 5 5 4 2 1 0 0 2
Source 1: NOAA (relative humidity and dew point 1961–1990)[8][9][10]
Source 2: Weather Atlas (sun and uv)[11]
Notes
  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.

History[edit]

Homer City Hall, located on Pioneer Avenue
Landmark: the Salty Dawg Saloon
Homer has a winery and a brewery.
Fog bank over Kachemak Bay
Old Town Homer: Islands and Oceans visitor center is at the far right.

Tiller digs indicate that early Alutiiq people probably camped in the Homer area, although their villages were on the far side of Kachemak Bay.

Coal was discovered in the area in the 1890s. The Cook Inlet Coal Fields Company built a town, dock, coal mine, and railroad at Homer. Coalmining in the area continued until World War II. It is estimated that 400 million tons of coal deposits are still present in the area.

Homer was named for Homer Pennock, a goldmining company promoter, who arrived in 1896 on the Homer Spit and built living quarters for his crew of 50 men. However, goldmining was never profitable in the area.

Another earlier settlement, Miller's Landing, was named after a Charles Miller, who homesteaded in the area around 1915. According to local historian Janet Klein, he was an employee of the Alaska Railroad and had wintered company horses on the beach grasses on the Homer Spit. He built a landing site in a small bight in Kachemak Bay, where supply barges from Seldovia could land and offload their cargos.[12] Miller's landing was legally considered a census-designated place separate from Homer until it was annexed in 2002, but has always been locally considered part of Homer.

Halibut and salmon sport fishing, along with tourism and commercial fishing are the dominant industries. Homer co-hosted the 2006 Arctic Winter Games. The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve co-host a visitor center with interpretive displays known as the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center,[13] and a cultural and historical museum there is called the Pratt Museum.

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1940325
1950307−5.5%
19601,247306.2%
19701,083−13.2%
19802,209104.0%
19903,66065.7%
20003,9467.8%
20105,00326.8%
2019 (est.)5,922[3]18.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

Homer first appeared on the 1940 U.S. Census as an unincorporated village. It formally incorporated in 1964.

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 5,003 people, 2,235 households, and 1,296 families residing in the city. The population density was 361.7 people per square mile (139.8/km2). There were 2,692 housing units at an average density of 194.6 per square mile (75.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.3% White, 4.1% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.0% Asian, 0.4% African American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 4.5% from two or more races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race were 2.1% of the population.[14]

There were 2,235 households, of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.3% were married couples living together, 9.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.0% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21, and the average family size was 2.83.[14]

The median age in the city was 44.0 years. 21.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22.2% were from 25 to 44; 34.5% were from 45 to 64; and 14.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.5% male and 50.5% female.[14]

The median income for a household was $52,057, and the median income for a family was $68,455. Males had a median income of $41,581 versus $37,679 for females. The per capita income for the city was $32,035. About 3.8% of families and 7.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.2% of those under age 18 and 1.4% of those age 65 or over.[14]

Education[edit]

Kachemak Bay Campus seen from Heath street.

Formal Education[edit]

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District provides primary and secondary education to the community of Homer. These schools are:

  • Homer High School (9-12)
  • Homer Flex High School (9-12)
  • Homer Middle School (7-8)
  • West Homer Elementary (3-6)
  • Paul Banks Elementary (K-2)
  • McNeil Canyon Elementary (K-6)
  • Fireweed Academy (K-6)
  • Connections Homeschool Program (K-12)

The Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College provides post-secondary education, as well as ESL and GED training to the community of Homer.

The Homer Public Library has enthusiastic support from the Friends of the Homer Library, established in 1948, which raised funds and support for a new library building, opened on September 16, 2006.

Science Education[edit]

Because of the city of Homer's location on the Kenai Peninsula and its abundance of natural resources and marine habitats, there are many public education programs focused on the environment. Some of these educational endeavors include the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center (also known as the Alaska Island and Ocean Center) and the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.[15] Both organizations encourage science education and sponsor many events aimed to teach people of all ages about the ecosystem and conservation. Some of these events include the Kachemak Crane Watch and the Kachemak Bay Science Conference, both sponsored by the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.[16]

Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival[edit]

A mated pair of sandhill cranes and their colts on the Kachemak Bay Water Trail as seen through a pair of binoculars.

One of the biggest educational events in Homer is the Kachemak Bay Shorebird festival. The Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival was first established in 1993 by a group of Homer residents who wished to educate the public about shorebirds and the wetlands the birds inhabit.[17] Today, the festival is sponsored by Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. The festival is held annually in early May when more than 13,000 shorebirds (also called waders) from 25 different species visit the Kachemak Bay area during spring migration.[18] Tourists and Alaskans alike attend the festival and are encouraged to watch the shorebird migration through a variety of land and boat tours in collaboration with the festival.

The Homer and Kachemak Bay areas consist of a variety of different habitats and are rich in food and resources that attract migrating birds. The abundance of diverse habitats such as mud flats, rocky isles, and marshlands enable many different species to thrive in the area.[18]

Some of the birds that can be seen during the spring migration and the festival include horned puffins, sandhill cranes, and arctic terns.[19] [20] Arctic Terns are famous for flying the longest distance of any migrating bird.[21]

Many of the birds seen during the festival can be identified with the help of published guides that categorize distinguishable features such as, topography, silhouette, size, and color.[22]

One of the special events held at the festival is the Shorebirds Sing: Bird Call Contest. The contest takes place at the Homer Brewing Company. The contest is a lighthearted competition to see who can best mimic the calls of various bird species.[23]

In 2020, the festival was held entirely virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic and all presentations, speeches, and events were conducted online.[24] The 2021 festival is currently planned to be both in person and virtual, with events taking place online and face-to-face.[25] The year 2022 will mark the 30th anniversary of the festival.

Media[edit]

Homer welcome sign.

Homer has one newspaper, the Homer News, a weekly founded in 1964 and bought in 2000 by Morris Communications.

Homer has a number of radio stations including commercial stations KWVV-FM at 103.5 FM, KGTL at 620 AM, and public radio KBBI at 890 AM.

Homer receives 7 analog television stations:[26] Because the stations are rebroadcast into Homer using repeaters, their channel numbers are not the same in Homer and they were not required to participate in the transition to digital television.

Transportation[edit]

Main airport terminal.

Homer is the southernmost town on the contiguous Alaska highway system. It is also part of the Alaska Marine Highway (the Alaskan ferry system). The regional airport lies near the coast as well, with local air taxis and regular scheduled commercial flights to Anchorage. Homer erected its first traffic light in 2005.[27]

The United States Coast Guard currently stations six Island Class cutters in Alaska, including one in Homer.[28][29] From February 7, 1992, to June 4, 2015, the USCGC Roanoke Island was assigned to Homer. She was retired early, and was replaced by the Sapelo. The Sapelo is scheduled to be replaced by a more modern Sentinel-class cutter.

The Coast Guard leases an anchorage on the Homer Spit.[28] The Coast Guard renewed its lease for 20 years in 2015.

Government[edit]

Homer uses a city council consisting of seven members. As of April 2020, the current mayor of Homer is Ken Castner.[30][31]

Notable people[edit]

Eagles on the spit in Homer

Notable people from or living in Homer include:

See also[edit]

Moose are a common sight on area roads and trails

References[edit]

Homer from space
  1. ^ 1996 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Municipal League/Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs. January 1996. p. 65.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  5. ^ "From Ketchikan to Barrow". Alaska Magazine. 81 (5): 19. June 2015.
  6. ^ "Facts & Figures | City of Homer Alaska Official Website". www.cityofhomer-ak.gov.
  7. ^ "USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map". Agricultural Research Center, PRISM Climate Group Oregon State University. Archived from the original on 2014-02-27. Retrieved 2019-11-01. Input 99603 in the ZIP Code box.
  8. ^ a b "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  9. ^ "Station Name: AK HOMER AIRPORT". National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  10. ^ "WMO climate normals for HOMER/ARPT AK 1961−1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
  11. ^ "Monthly weather forecast and climate - Homer, AK". Weather Atlas. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  12. ^ Klein, Janet (1981). A History of Kachemak Bay. Homer, Alaska: Homer Society of Natural History.
  13. ^ http://www.islandsandocean.org/ Islands and Oceans homepage
  14. ^ a b c d "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  15. ^ "Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center | Homer Things To Do". ALASKA.ORG. Retrieved 2021-04-13.
  16. ^ "Explore. Connect. Protect - Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies | Homer, Alaska". www.akcoastalstudies.org. Retrieved 2021-04-13.
  17. ^ "About Us | Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival". kachemakshorebird.org. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
  18. ^ a b Matz, George. "Kachemak Bay Shorebird Monitoring Project: 2014 Report" (PDF). Kachmak Bay Birders.
  19. ^ "Birds Seen During the Festival | Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival". kachemakshorebird.org. Retrieved 2021-04-07.
  20. ^ "SPECIES TALLY LIST FOR KACHEMAK SHOREBIRD FESTIVAL MAY 9-12 2019" (PDF). Kachemak Shorebird.
  21. ^ Fijn, R.C.; Hiemstra, D.; Phillips, R.A.; van der Winden, J. (2013). "Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea from the Netherlands migrate record distances across three oceans to Wilkes Land, East Antarctica". Ardea. 101: 3–12. doi:10.5253/078.101.0102. S2CID 84699518.
  22. ^ "Shorebird Identification" (PDF). Migratory Shorebird Project.
  23. ^ "Bird Song Hero – Virtual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival". Retrieved 2021-04-07.
  24. ^ "2020 Program of Events and Registration | Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival". 2020-08-12. Archived from the original on 2020-08-12. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
  25. ^ "2021 Program of Events | Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival". kachemakshorebird.org. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
  26. ^ "TV Station List". Archived from the original on October 11, 2007.
  27. ^ "Homer News Online - News". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-03-07.
  28. ^ a b Michael Armstrong (2015-06-04). "Coast Guard cutter forced into retirement". Homer News. Archived from the original on 2015-06-05. Homer won’t lose the 18 crewmembers and their families, however. An Island Class patrol boat, the 110-foot Roanoke Island will be replaced in Homer by a sister ship, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo, now stationed in Sector San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  29. ^ David Mosely (2012-10-25). "Cutter crew maintains operational readiness". Coast Guard Alaska. Retrieved 2015-06-05. The 110-foot Island-class patrol boat, homeported in Homer, Alaska, just completed a major, 135-day long, maintenance overhaul at the Coast Guard dry dock in Ketchikan. This overhaul updated the ships systems to ensure it can continue to meet its mission requirements until its scheduled replacement by one of the Coast Guard’s new fast response cutters.
  30. ^ "City Council - City of Homer Alaska Official Website". City of Homer. Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  31. ^ Gross, Renee, Mayor Castner and City Council clash over authority and mayoral proclamations, KBBI, 10/23/2018

External links[edit]