When it rains...: Kenai Peninsula residents reflect on especially wet July

Posted: Thursday, August 05, 2010

Fish heads and fishermen mulled along the Kenai beach last weekend. Beth Larusso, a first time dipnetter, sat in the sand with a glum look on her face. Larusso, of Anchorage, said that the rain had slowed her usual summer activities.

Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Tiffany Reynolds reflects in the remains of Wednesday's rain as she takes a break from doing laundry. "It would be nice if we had more sun," she said.

"I'm less motivated to get outdoors and go hiking," she said. "I'd rather stay inside, read a book and curl up in a blanket."

Was it wet enough for you last month?

It's hard to say how July ranked in terms of wettness, but it was certainly rainy in southcentral Alaska.

United States Geological Survey data showed that water discharge was higher than the 45-year average in Soldotna for more than two-thirds of the month. Discharge is the amount of water the passes by a site on a given day.

National Weather Service forcaster Neil Murakami said he didn't have any rainfall data for Kenai in his database. Even though daily precipitation measurements are taken at Kenai and Soldotna airports, Murakami said that the precipitation data for certain sites disappears after 48 hours. So, no comparison records are kept for the central Kenai Peninsula.

Data does show that Anchorage had its eighth wettest July since recording began in the 1950s. Weather Service climatologist Rick Thoman said that Fairbanks had its 15 wettest since it began tracking rainfall 105 years ago. Thoman said that the rain was less consistent in his region because of the showery nature of the storms. Fairbanks recorded above average rain, but North Pole was slightly below the monthly average.

So, does the abundance of wet put a damper on Peninsula life?

Larusso isn't the only one who felt sluggish. According to Soldotna Police Department Sgt. Stace Escott, traffic volume went down the past month as well.

Outlaw Body Repair and Towing office manager Barbara Turvin said that there hasn't been much activity on her end either.

"If they're not out and about, they're not going to wreck their cars," she said.

Arunee Rhoades, owner of Soldotna Towing, corroborated the information by citing his business' own inactivity.

"It's not like when you have snow and the [Kenai] Spur Highway has holes in it," he said.

Kenai Fire Department Fire Chief Mike Tilly didn't mind the downtime. Tilly said that tensions normally run high during the summer when his crews are on-call for potential wildfires.

"I don't mind a little rain," he said. "Some people might hate me, but it keeps the woods nice and moist."

President of the Kenai River Professional Guides Association David Goggia said that fishing conditions have been optimal during the steady rains. The spread out nature of the fall kept the river from flooding.

"The water was extremely clear," he said. "Conditions were very good for fishing."

Kenai Harbor dock attendant Dan Evenson said that dipnet traffic was up by ten-percent compared to last July. The rainy weather didn't cause an increase in accidents along the dock.

"The ramp is covered in mud, so it's always slippery," he said.

Normally poor weather conditions and long lines sour fishermen, but moods were acceptable in spite of the rain.

"If they hadn't been getting fish it would've been a lot worse," he said.

Fishermen aren't immune to the rain, and a few dipnetters on the Kenai had to be treated for hypothermia, according to the fire chief. He believed that the showers soaked the fishers and left them standing in the water with soaked clothes.

"I'm not sure of the last time we had one like that," he said.

Former Hawaiian Pouli Vaati claimed that he dipnetted every weekend of the season nevertheless. In Alaska, residents take whatever opportunity they have to get out and take in fresh air.

"I'm out here every weekend doing the man thing," he said proudly while staring out at the beach.

Tony Cella can be reached at tony.cella@peninsulaclarion.com.

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