From Mary Peltola to Typhoon Merbok: Our top 10 stories of 2022

A man in a hat pushes a snow blower spraying snow.
Larry Muehlhausen removes snow from his Anchorage driveway in mid-December, after one of three major snowstorms hit the city. (Valerie Kern/Alaska Public Media).

One of our first most-read stories of the year: “Alaskans are stuck on vacations that won’t end.”

And, one of our last: “Flight cancellations lead to hectic holiday travel for Alaskans.” 

The year 2022 started with travel woes and ended with them, too. The world continued to open up after the COVID-19 pandemic shut so many parts of life down for so long. But Alaskans are stranded in airports again.

It’s been a year of powerful storms, of communities banding together and, of course, of elections.

Here are 10 of the stories our readers spent the most time with this year, reported by journalists at Alaska Public Media and at our partner public radio stations:

1. ‘Alaskan Bush People’ get the cold shoulder when looking for land in Southeast 

An aerial shot
Petersburg’s harbors and downtown from the air in June. Reality TV stars from the long-running Discovery series, “Alaskan Bush People,” made a brief stop in the Southeast community this summer, trying to buy land. (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

The famous Brown family from “Alaskan Bush People” tried to buy land in the Southeast community of Petersburg after living in Washington the last three years. But locals did not welcome them as neighbors. 

Reporting by CoastAlaska in Southeast. Read more.

2. Peltola leads in Alaska’s U.S. House race, while U.S. Senate race tightens

a man and woman hug
Mary Peltola hugs her husband, Gene Peltola Jr., as results are tallied in the August special election to fill the remainder of late Congressman Don Young’s term. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Our election night story. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski went on to win another term in office, securing the seat she has held since 2002. And Congresswoman Mary Peltola won her first full term in the U.S. House, after making history in the fall, winning the August special election and becoming the first Alaska Native person to serve in Congress. 

Reporting by Alaska Public Media. Read more.

3. High-end coolers wash up on Alaska beaches after Washington cargo spill

a man with a plane and coolers
Duke Marolf of Seward stands behind coolers he found in July by flying his bush plane over remote beaches along Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. (Courtesy Duke Marolf via KUOW)

Consumer goods from coolers to bike helmets washed up on Gulf of Alaska beaches earlier this year, after a cargo ship spilled 109 shipping containers off the coast of Washington.

Reporting by KUOW out of the Puget Sound. Read more.

4. Anchorage Health Department director resigns amid investigation into fabricated resume 

Anchorage's acting health director Joe Gerace poses for a photo outside of the Sullivan Arena shelter
Anchorage’s acting health director Joe Gerace poses for a photo after taking journalists on a tour of the Sullivan Arena shelter on Nov. 1, 2021. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Joe Gerace resigned citing “severe health issues” as Alaska Public Media prepared to publish a story detailing misleading statements he made about his military service, glaring omissions about his work history and outright lies about his education.

Reporting by Alaska Public Media and American Public Media. Read more.

5. Historically powerful storm slams Western Alaska. Here’s what people experienced across hundreds of miles of coastline.

a damaged fish camp
A fish camp in the Nome area, seen on Sept. 24, destroyed by the remnants of Typhoon Merbok. (Jeremy Edwards/FEMA)

Wind tore off roofs. Houses floated off their foundations. Boats sank. National Weather Service climatologist Brian Brettschneider described the storm as the “worst-case scenario.” The disaster is tied to climate change.

Reporting by a team from Alaska Public Media in Anchorage, KYUK in Bethel and KTOO in Juneau. Read more.

6. Wind almost derailed Brent Sass’s first Iditarod victory. Here’s what happened.

A man with a beard and a jacket
Brent Sass tells the story of his final run into Nome on Tuesday, March 5. Sass got teary several times during the hour-long interview while talking about his dogs. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Brent Sass and his team tumbled down a hillside in a raging windstorm. Sass said when he looked up, the trail was gone.

Reporting by Alaska Public Media. Read more.

7. Bering Sea king and snow crab seasons canceled amid population declines

(Berett Wilbur/KUCB)

For the first time ever, the Bering Sea snow crab fishery did not open. The Bristol Bay red king crab fishery also closed for a second year in a row.

Reporting by KMXT in Kodiak. Read more.

8. Soldier killed by brown bear on JBER was marking course for navigation training

An aerial view of a heavily wooded area
A soldier was killed by a bear in the wooded area west of the Anchorage Regional Landfill on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Google Maps)

Investigators determined a sow with two cubs attacked the group. A den was found nearby.

Reporting by Alaska Public Media. Read more.

9. Millions of Alaska-bound honeybees die at Atlanta airport

Bees in a shipping container
The bees were bound for Anchorage, where they were to be shipped to beekeepers across the state. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Hundreds of pounds of honeybees were set to ship from the Lower 48 to beekeepers across Alaska in April. But most of the bees died in transit when the crates carrying them were left for hours on a hot tarmac in Atlanta.

Reporting by KDLL in Kenai. Read more.

10. Travelers say staff shortages and COVID-19 outbreaks are spoiling their Alaska cruises 

The side of a large cruise ship, with passengers visible on balconies and walkways.
The Norwegian Bliss, the first large cruise ship of the season, arrived in Juneau on April 25, 2022. (Paige Sparks/KTOO)

Experienced cruisers said a lot of passengers were getting infected with COVID-19 and that, on board, they were left in the dark as the risk level changed.

Reporting by KTOO in Juneau. Read more.

[Sign up for Alaska Public Media’s daily newsletter to get our top stories delivered to your inbox.]

Previous articleAnchorage prepares to greet 2023 with fireworks and festivities
Next articleAlaska News Nightly: Friday, December 30, 2022