It will snow in 2006, probably

Posted: Sunday, January 01, 2006

Snow is in the forecast for 2006.

Despite a relatively snowless December, there's a possibility of snow today, said Kimberly Vaughan, hydrometeorologist at the National Weather Service in Juneau.

"Right now there are no significant snow events coming," she said Friday. But some snow this winter is inevitable.

"We will get snow," said Jeffra Clough, director of sales, marketing and the snow sports school at the Eaglecrest Ski Area. Up Douglas Island's Fish Creek Road, Juneau's ski and snowboard resort is ready to go as soon as weather permits.

Last season, Eaglecrest didn't open for skiing until New Year's Eve. Clough said the latest opening was around Feb. 22. But the resort has more snowmaking abilities than it used to, so it can make use of cold clear days. Already there are a couple of piles of manufactured snow that can be moved onto the slopes when the time is right, she said.

"Past the Christmas season we get in the snowy cycle," she said.

Even without snow, Clough said the community seems aware that today's scheduled New Year's Day party will go on. Festivities will begin at 3 p.m. and will be capped with a 5 p.m. fireworks display.

"We had a very good turnout Christmas Eve," she added.

Though people have been drawn to the mountain for the holiday parties, everyone at Eaglecrest is looking forward to opening the slopes. Already, both sessions of the holiday ski and snowboard camps were canceled and Eaglecrest officials are looking at possible changes to events planned for January.

"Snow will be helpful," Clough said.

Down at the airport, only 3.6 inches of snow was recorded officially in December, according to weather service records. That was the snowfall recorded on Dec. 3. Only trace amounts have fallen since. An average December officially brings 21.1 inches to weather service records in Juneau.

At the same time, Juneau's December has been wetter than usual, with more than 6.7 inches of precipitation. Normal rainfall for that month is 5.41 inches.

"For the year, we're 22 inches above normal," Vaughan said. With more than 74 inches of precipitation, Juneau didn't threaten the record of 85.51 inches measured in 1991. A year-end summary of Juneau's 2005 weather wasn't expected to be available until early this week. But while there were 18 daily high-temperature records set during 2005, the year doesn't appear to be close to the warmest since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1943.

The average temperature of 43.7 degrees in 2004 made it the fourth-warmest on record, and 2005 was short of that, averaging 43.5 degrees for the year on Friday. The average temperature for 1993 was a record 44.2 degrees.

Records show there wasn't a white Christmas or New Year's Eve in 1993 either, despite more than 10 inches falling the first half of the month.

But by Jan. 7, 1994, the snow depth was officially measured at 10 inches. Ten days later, the snow depth at the airport measured 30 inches.

At Eaglecrest on Friday, there were a few snow flurries, Clough said. She is optimistic that the forecast is looking good on the mountain in 2006. "I know people are getting anxious."

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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