Who says it's almost spring?

Cold snap sends March temps plunging toward zero

Posted: Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Today would be a particularly good day to bundle up, even if the calendar says spring is just a week away.

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Wind chills downtown during the day could go as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit.

"We're going to see some gusting winds," said National Weather Service forecaster Brian Bezenek, describing the cold Taku wind that can accelerate over Juneau's mountains with a biting winter chill.

"We'll probably see 40- to 50-mile gusts on south Douglas Island," he said. Monday night there was a south Douglas Island gust measured at nearly 60 mph near sea level. He said he expects gusty winds in many parts of the community through Wednesday, and he doesn't expect temperatures to begin to climb again until Thursday.

Monday night, the official temperature at Juneau International Airport had already dipped below 10 degrees, Bezenek said. Temperatures could drop below zero in the back of the Mendenhall Valley during the cold snap, he added.

From inside, the weather might look nice, but the clear skies contribute to the colder overnight temperatures, he said. "The clouds tend to trap the warmer air and keep it closer to the ground."

As for the calendar, the cold may be getting a little unseasonable for March, but such cold temperatures are not unheard of. "We've had near-zero temperatures as far as the end of the month, Bezenek said. Early April sometimes sees single-digit lows.

Bezenek said the area has been cooling for a couple of days with a push of arctic air from the Yukon.

While the National Weather Service doesn't keep official wind-chill records, he said he can offer a good guess as to how the Taku wind will feel on exposed skin this week. Tonight, it could feel like 10 to 20 degrees below zero in places, he said.

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