High pressure keeps snow at bay

Precipitation in city running lower than normal this month

Posted: Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sticky high pressure areas over the region dominated the weather in Juneau this month to create drier than usual conditions, according to National Weather Service data.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Snowfall is down by about two-thirds of normal so far this month.

At the airport, 4.9 inches of snow fell compared to 13.2 inches in a normal year. Last year had 17.3 inches by this time, National Weather Service Meteorologist Bob Tschantz said.

Two weather systems dominated by high pressure ridges that stuck around for days on end caused dry, clear skies for much of the month, Meteorologist Edward Liske said.

"A few times we've had a large blocking high over the gulf and Interior of Alaska," Liske said. "It's a big ridge that just sits there for a long time. All the storms trying to approach us from the west get pushed either north or south or don't make it here at all."

The cycle will likely be broken this week to bring a white - or at least a wet - Christmas, the weather service predicted.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 3 to 6 inches of snow was forecast to fall in the Juneau area today. The snow could be mixed with rain, Tschantz said.

The long-term outlook for winter weather has not changed from earlier predictions.

Because the region is being affected by an El Niño pattern, which means warmer temperatures in the central tropical Pacific, Juneau's weather will be a bit warmer than average with snowfall running a little below average.

Temperatures so far this month were a degree below normal, Tschantz said.

El Niño brings different weather than the dominant patterns of the past two winters. La Niña during those years brought somewhat colder than normal temperatures that yielded more snow.

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