First frost bites two weeks early

Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Clear skies Monday night sent temperatures below freezing, Juneau's first frost of the season.

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

The airport registered a low of 28 degrees and the federal building downtown came in just a few degrees higher at 34.

A "killing frost," as it's called, is one where temperatures drop below freezing for longer than six hours. Christopher Cox, a general forecaster with the National Weather Service in Juneau, said this year's first killing frost came a few weeks earlier than in 2008.

"We're a couple weeks early for a killing frost. Today would have been the first average day for a light frost," he said.

On average, Cox said the first killing frost typically happens in the Juneau area around Oct. 14.

And while winter enthusiasts may be chomping at the bit for the snow to fly, Cox also said it's still too early to tell exactly what kind of winter Juneau will have.

"Really, there's no way to look at (the dates) and say we're going to have lots of snow, a little bit of snow or what kind of winter we're going to have," he said.

However, large-scale weather patterns show that Southeast Alaska is heading into an El Niño winter, which often brings more precipitation, Cox said.

"We're currently experiencing a moderate El Niño, which tends to have an increase in precipitation," he said. "There's a couple different cycles, but typically we just have more precipitation."

It's still too early to tell if that means specifically more snow or more rain.

Last year, the first trace of snowfall was recorded in Juneau on Oct. 10. The area experienced several inches of snowfall on Oct. 25.

Today's forecast calls for a 100 percent chance of rain and a high of 47. Rain and temperatures in the upper 40s are expected to continue through Thursday night.

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