Winter isn’t technically over yet, but the warm and sunny weather could fool you into thinking it is.
Skagway and Haines saw more snow this winter than last, but it was still a warmer and less snowy season than average.
This winter, the average temperature for Haines was 33.4 degrees. That’s about three degrees warmer than average. It’s been about five degrees warmer than usual in Skagway, with an average temperature of 35 degrees. Even though last year’s winter was also warmer, this year topped last by a couple of degrees in Haines and Skagway.
Kimberly Vaughan is a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Juneau.
“I mean we were doing days after days after days for record high temperatures around Southeast,” Vaughan said. “And I know the state has seen record high temperatures as well. And of course record low snowfalls.”
Snowfall has been lower than average in the Upper Lynn Canal, but it definitely beat last winter. Haines’ average winter snowfall is 150.7 inches. So far this season, there’s been about 98 inches. That’s double last year’s total accumulation.
Skagway’s average snowfall is much lower, about 49 inches. So far this winter the town has seen about 36. That’s 15 inches more than last winter.
“A lot of people think it’s gonna be warmer, which means we’re not gonna get any snow, but that just means that…overall, the number of days we get snow might be less.”
Vaughan says the averages for Skagway and Haines are based on about 15 years of data — starting in 1999 for Haines and 2000 for Skagway.
She says Alaska has been warming through the decades, but this weather is the result of a few factors, including the warm ocean waters of a strong El Nino.
“You have the El Nino that’s set up that will bring us warm weather and you have ocean temperatures that are warmer than normal which also helps us be a bit warmer. Basically we just had the high pressure hanging out, out in the Gulf, and just a lot of the colder weather is getting pushed down into the Lower 48. And that’s why a lot of the states, even the Southern states are seeing a lot of colder weather that we’re not seeing anymore, or at least this season.”
The first day of spring is March 20. Vaughan says there could be some more snow up the Haines and Klondike Highways. Temperatures for the next couple months are expected to continue on the warmer than normal trend.