After a warm winter, spring will be damp and cool

Posted: Sunday, March 18, 2001

The National Weather Service has been looking back at winter - and forward to spring.

According to a recent release from Carmeyia Gillis at the Climate Prediction Center and Aimee Devaris at National Weather Service Juneau, Alaska's winter of 2000-01 was the warmest since organized government record keeping began in 1918.

The northern and central parts of the state saw temperatures average seven degrees or more above normal, while most of the southern coastal areas had temperatures of five to seven degrees above normal. The Aleutians, Kodiak Island and the southern Panhandle experienced winter temperatures two to five degrees above normal.

For Southeast Alaska, this winter was warmer than average but not record-breaking. In Juneau, the average temperature during December, January and February was 32.1 degrees, making it the seventh warmest winter on record in the state's capital city.

In Haines, the average temperature was 29.5 degrees, the fifth warmest on record. In Sitka, the average temperature was 38.1 degrees, the eighth warmest on record.

Because of the sultry weather, the Juneau Airport has received only 29.1 inches of snow so far this winter, the second lowest total ever through March 15. This lack of snow postponed the opening of the Eaglecrest Ski Area to Feb. 1, the latest opening date in its history.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists are concerned that drought conditions in the Northwest will linger despite spring rains.

"A major concern is the impact of continued dry conditions on salmon stocks and hydroelectric energy production in the Northwest," said Scott Gudes, NOAA's acting administrator.

The spring is expected to bring above-normal precipitation to the Northwest, said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, director of NOAA's National Weather Service, "but the spring rainfall will be too little too late to replenish water resources there."

The same holds true for the rest of the state.

Precipitation this spring will be near normal, but will not be enough to offset the impact of already low precipitation levels and the thin snow pack.

April and May are usually the driest months of the year in Juneau.

Normal spring precipitation for Juneau in April is 2.77 inches with an average temperature of 39.7.

Normal precipitation for May is 3.42 inches, with an average temperature of 47.0. In June, normal precipitation is 3.15 inches with an average temperature of 53.0.

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