Snow melts past lights on the front the Walters residence in Old Town Kenai Tuesday afternoon.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Where’s all the snow?
OK, the Kenai Peninsula did get the white Christmas many were praying for, but the amount of white stuff on the ground does not measure up to previous December snowfall totals.
According to the National Weather Service Anchorage Forecast Office, snow totals in that city are doing just fine only two-tenths of an inch below normal, to be precise.
In Kenai, however, the picture is much more grim. That is if one is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys activities such as cross country skiing, snowmachining or dog mushing.
“So far this year, we’ve received 22 inches (of snow),” said Foster “Frosty” Walters, who’s been keeping track of snowfall totals in Kenai since 1983.
In December, though, the total has only been 11.8 inches, as of Tuesday, Walters said.
Last year, Kenai received 18.2 inches of snow in December, and by Dec. 27, 2004, 44.35 inches of snow had fallen on Kenai for the season.
Although the snow totals so far this year are somewhat skimpy, they are not headed for any record.
According to Walters, the least snowy season here was the winter of 1980 to 1981, when only 14.9 inches of snow landed on Kenai the entire winter.
The maximum recorded total, he said, came in the winter of 1994 to 1995, when Kenai residents were faced with shoveling 118 inches of the white stuff.
Walters, who measures snowfall at his Kenai residence, said he only keeps track as a hobby.
“It helps me win a lot of arguments,” he said.
From a more official perspective, David Vonderheide, an Anchorage weather service spokesperson, said, “For the season, Anchorage has had 32.9 inches of snow only one-tenth of an inch below normal.”
Temperatures, on the other hand, are averaging above normal for the month.
“In Anchorage, temperatures have been almost 8 degrees above normal,” Vonderheide said.
“What’s been contributing to that is the Chinook winds. We’ve had them at least twice this month. They’ve been melting a lot of snow,” he said.
“The weather pattern has not been typical, but it’s certainly nothing we haven’t seen,” he said.
One thing that stands out about this winter in Vonderheide’s observation is that Southcentral Alaska has not had any Prince William Sound snowstorms.
“That’s what we call the snowstorms that just linger over Prince William Sound and dump 20 inches or more on us,” he said.
The official forecast for Southcentral Alaska calls for mostly cloudy conditions through Thursday with a chance of snow Friday and the next chance Monday or Tuesday, according to Vonderheide.
The longer range forecast two to three weeks out indicates a turn to colder temperatures, with little precipitation predicted.
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