Snow caps Mount Ripinsky in Haines in November. John S. Hagen photo.

Snow caps Mount Ripinsky in Haines in November. John S. Hagen photo.

By Margaret Friedenauer

You may have noticed something unusual about the weather – it hasn’t snowed yet, at least not at lower elevations. Haines residents like Andy Hedden aren’t too concerned just yet because it’s giving them a chance to catch up on autumn chores.

“It gave me time to get out of town, and get everything covered up that normally just gets buried in the yard and I find in the spring, so I’m OK with it.”

Forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Juneau noted the later-than-normal onset of snow in a recent Facebook post, but also explained it’s still far from the latest date of snowfall for the Upper Lynn Canal.  While the average first measurable snowfall occurs in Haines on November 2, the latest date a first snowfall has occurred is Dec. 15. That record was set in 2002.

Forecaster Tim Steffen said warmer than normal temperatures have kept the snow at bay this year.

“For the month overall, the average temperature is 6.9 degrees above normal,” he said.

Steffen says that means the average temperatures have hovered just above freezing most of the month, preventing the snow from accumulating at lower elevations. Whether colder temperatures would have brought more snow is uncertain, he says, because the precipitation outlook is unclear.

“So there’s no real clear indicator on what the precipitation is going to do this year but there was an indication we were going to have a warmer than normal winter,” Steffen said.

He said the lack of snow isn’t yet cause for concern or considered extreme. Based on the first half of the month, it’s the 11th warmest start to winter on the record books, he says.