Where's the snow?

Above normal temperatures plague central peninsula

Posted: Monday, November 20, 2000

Winter is a time many Alaskans look forward to for its recreation possibilities. Skiing, snowmachining and sledding are all activities people enjoy during the dark snowy months.

Except when there is no snow.

Unfortunately a lack of snow is the weather condition the Kenai Peninsula has been experiencing this month. Tempera-tures have barely dipped below the 30-degree mark, and it doesn't take an expert to tell that the area is experiencing above normal temperatures.

However, one expert, Dave Vonderheide, a spokesperson with the National Weather Service in Anchorage, said the weather has stayed so mild because the storm track has moved west toward Homer, rather than east to Prince Williams Sound.

Low pressure systems move west to east, and depending on the jet steam, can bring snow or rain to the area. If the jet stream runs too far west, a low pressure system track will bring warm air and southeast winds to Cook Inlet.

This is the first winter in several years that has not been affected by cyclical Pacific Ocean phenomena.

"We do not have anything like an El Nino or La Nina right now," Vonderheide said.

El Nino and La Nina are periodic changes in the temperature of the Pacific Ocean that affect weather patterns in the western hemisphere.

John Stepetin, another spokesperson for the weather service, said though the temperatures are above normal, he would not call the weather odd.

He said the weather should change


Stepetin said Kenai area temperatures have been averaging 7 to 8 degrees above normal.

The information on the Western Regional Climate Data Center World Wide Web site agrees with Vonderheide.

For the month of November, the maximum temperature average at the Kenai Municipal Airport is 29.1 and the minimum average temperature has been 13.7.

Vonderheide said that Kenai also is below average in the area of snowfall. Kenai should have 12 inches of snow on the ground by the end of November.

Also, the web site noted that the average total snowfall for the month of November is 10.3 inches. However, according to Peninsula Clarion records, only 1.5 inches of snow has fallen since Oct. 10, and most of that has melted in the recent rains.

Vonderheide said the storm track needs to change direction to see a change in the weather, and that may happen sometime this week.

He said area residents may see a little snow as early as Wednesday. In the meantime, area motorists must deal with icy roads often covered in rain, and skiers, snowmachiners and those who sled must keep their faith that the white stuff eventually will fall.

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