Sunshine no cause for alarm

Posted: Sunday, June 17, 2007

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I woke up Friday morning with a strange, burning sensation all over my skin.

Outside, the sky was blue.

I broke out in a sweat, feeling woozy and confused.

It was ... It was ... It was sunny. It wasn't raining. The gray clouds that normally lurk over Juneau had dissipated, and for one disorienting moment I felt hot.

Friday was Juneau's 60th day of the year without precipitation. As we hit day number 166, we hit it dryly. Not bad.

Looking at it from another angle, we've had 106 days of some kind of rain or snow. That's precipitation for 64 percent of our year. All is as expected in the temperate rain forest.

Though the clouds and rain get a little tedious at times, I try to look at the bright side. Moss is doing well. Our fears of a mosquito shortage have proved unfounded. There appears to be no pending collapse of the raincoat and XtraTuf boot industries.

Despite our record-breaking winter, this year is only 2.27 inches of precipitation above the norm, according to the National Weather Service.

I hate to jinx anything, but we've been on a nice, downward trend in rainy days in the last few months. March had 25 days of precipitation, and April had 21. May had 16, and June, as of Friday, seven.

As a weather expert, I can assure you this trend is probably permanent. If this keeps up, we'll have no rain at all in July. By August and September, moisture actually will be rising out of town and disappearing into the sky. Winter will be warm. We'll be water-skiing on Christmas - in warm water.

The sunshine changes things.

Stepping out of my apartment on Friday, I rubbed my eyes. Gastineau Channel was sparkling, and little sailboats raced in the dry wind. Mount Juneau and Mount Roberts reached up to clear skies. Workers took early weekends. Bosses didn't care, hypnotized by the shimmering, peaceful blue skies.

The sunshine changes things.

In the channel, salmon whistled at the anglers and ate anything with a hook in it. In the downtown streets, throngs of cruising tourists pumped prosperity into the local economy, one Alaska-related trinket at a time. In sunny back yards, old dogs learned new tricks. Dollar bills dropped gently from the dollar trees.

What a day. I received a very exciting offer from a man in Ghana who recently inherited a large fortune but needs my bank account information before we can begin investing. I was going to respond, but it was just too nice out. I was distracted.

As the day grew late, I started feeling comfortable with the strange, burning sensation. I think my car reached 70 degrees with the windows closed. Not too shabby. At one point I was outdoors without a sweater.

The sunshine changes things.

• Ken Lewis can be reached at ken.lewis@juneauempire.com or 523-2263.



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