Amchitka, so named by the Aleuts who've inhabited the Aleutian Islands for at least 9000 years, is one of the North Pacific Aleutian Chain's Rat Islands. It is located approximately 1340 miles west southwest from Anchorage, Alaska, and 870 miles east of Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, of the Russian Far East. It is 35 miles long, and almost 3 miles wide. Early Russians referred to this island as Ostrov Amchitka.
Amchitka was the site of some of the earliest American and Canadian victories during WWII, having been retaken from the Japanese in January of 1943. A large contingency of USAAF personnel and aircraft operated from Amchitka through the end of WWII.
The U. S. Atomic Energy Commission created a nuclear testing facility on Amchitka in the early 1960's. A total of three subterranean nuclear test explosions were conducted on Amchitka during the 1960's and 1970's. The first detonation was of an 80 kiloton bomb known as "Long Shot" some 2,359 below the surface on the 29th of October, 1965. The second was "Milrow," a one megaton device, exploded on the 2nd of October, 1969, 4,000 feet below the surface of the island. The third device, "Cannikin," weighing in at 5 megatons, was detonated 6000 feet below ground level on the 6th of November, 1971. Cannikin was the largest underground nuclear explosion in U.S. history. The Amchitka testing facility was closed in 1994, accompanied by an on-going U.S. Government effort at cleaning up the residual radioactive, chemical, and other hazardous waste left on the island. While there is an airstrip on Amchitka, as of this writing it is currently restricted to U. S. Government flights only.
Amchitka's weather is much like the rest of the Western Aleutian Islands...fog, rain, snow, with temperatures ranging from 11 to 65 degrees through the year. Annual snowfall averages around 41 inches, with a total precipitation of around 21 inches.
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