Taste of Winter

Average date for first snowfall in Juneau is Nov. 5

Posted: Friday, November 04, 2005

Big white snowflakes fell on Juneau Thursday afternoon, and while most weren't sticking on the roads when people headed home, many had to clear the slush from their cars for the first time in months.

"We're ready for it," said Deanne Neal, walking up Franklin Street with her black silky terrier, Jake. Her dog wasn't dressed in his red winter coat, she said, because "it doesn't seem to be sticking."

"It's a little late," said another downtown resident, Frank Cashen, walking up Main Street with his wife, Irene.

Usually there's snow by Halloween, he said.

Brian Bezenek, a National Weather Service forecaster in Juneau, said Thursday would be just about average for the city's first measurable snowfall of the season. The average date is Nov. 5, but it can come more than a month earlier.

"We've had (measurable) snowfall as early as Oct. 2," he said.

In 2002, Juneau didn't get its first real snowfall until Dec. 14. Last year's first snow was on the early side, falling on the afternoon of Oct. 19.

Temperatures will dictate snowfall in the near future, Bezenek said. There's a chance of rain or snow or rain mixed with snow. For the next few days, temperatures were expected to range from 30 to 37 degrees.

In the middle of next week, lows are expected in the upper 20s, he added.

Already this year, there have been reports of black ice on Juneau roads, he said.

Michael Scott, the city's streets superintendent, said crews are prepared for what the next few days could bring.

The city has 350 to 400 tons of de-icing compound - typical for a Juneau winter - to use on streets, and plows will be ready when needed.

"We won't need to put up a big effort for another month," he said. He defines a "big effort" as the city's response to the 3 feet of snow that one storm left last January.

People commuting outbound from downtown Thursday saw more accumulation on the ground, although the snow was melting on the pavement. In the dwindling light of the late afternoon, with clouds shrouding the mountain peaks, it may have seemed just a typically wet Juneau day.

Neal said she will get Jake's coat out, though. Her son, Steven, smiled at the prospect of snow.

"He'll make money shoveling," his mother said.

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