Posted: Thursday, February 01, 2001

Yep, January was warm

JUNEAU - Warm and wet describes monsoon season in the tropics better than January in Juneau, but that's how the National Weather Service is characterizing local weather.

Precipitation was 7.4 inches, well above the normal level, with temperatures averaging 12 degrees above normal levels. Typically about 2.5 feet of snow falls in January, but last month only 7 inches fell, then melted quickly. The total sea-level snowfall so far this winter is just 13.2 inches, a record low.

Meteorologists attribute the unusual weather to the jet stream. The position of the jet stream normally shifts in November each year, allowing colder arctic and continental air to influence the wet maritime weather systems moving from the Pacific Ocean into Southeast Alaska and the Yukon. Dan Byrd of the National Weather Service said that didn't happened this fall, and it still hasn't happened.

Three high temperature records were broken in January, on Jan. 2, 3 and 7. The warm weather Jan. 3 also brought the month's strongest winds, with a 59 mph gust measured. More than an inch of rain also fell that same day.

Jeff Hansen at Taku Oil said heating oil sales are well below average this winter.

"The temperature is definitely a factor in what we do," Hansen said. "Doubling, or halving, in this case, what we normally do."

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