Iditasnow update & more snow rollers

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Haines beach volleyball court

Since the leap day checkpoint report, most towns have slowed their snowfall pace. Haines and Yakutat, however, have been running hard, each having added an impressive 50 inches this first half of March.

The Top Ten as of 15 March

place town total through 3/15 % of average % of record current depth
1 Haines 357.1” (9.08 meters) 243 116 61” (1.55 m)
2 Yakutat 313.3 (7.97) 218 78 85 (2.16)
3 Kodiak 134.9 (3.43) 196 84 12 (0.31)
4 Barrow 65.0 (1.65) 172 83 13 (0.33)
5 Anchorage 129.4 (3.29) 158 97 34 (0.86)
6 Juneau 130.5 (3.32) 151 66 Trace
7 Haines Customs 342.6 (8.72) 131 93 95 (2.42)
8 Valdez 426.0 (10.84) 131 76 87 (2.21)
8 Kotzebue 78.1 (1.99) 131 65 54 (1.37)
10 Cold Bay 87.7 (2.23) 120 76 23 (0.59)

Remember, the standings are based on snowfall this season compared to the station’s average yearly snowfall. (No, I did not come up with this rating scheme to just to put Haines in the lead).

The top six positions remain as they were at the end of last month. Yakutat, holding easily to 2nd place, has a surprising amount of snow on the ground for such a mild coastal town. In contrast, snow cover at the Juneau Airport is down to a trace, despite a foot of new snow in the past two weeks. Kind of embarrassing, I would guess, for a front runner. Amazing the difference between Juneau and Haines, just 70 miles apart as the raven flies. I should mention that the Juneau Forecast Office is reporting 9 inches on the ground, a little better, but c’mon…Haines customs is down to 95 inches from 120 on Monday. (Yes, they qualify as a town…around 1,000 people live outside of Haines in the Chilkat Valley, scattered or grouped the 40 miles all the way to the border. The customs station is their official weather station.)

Cold Bay has moved up into the top ten thanks to about 22 inches of snow so far this month, passing up a number of towns, including regional neighbors St. Paul, Bethel and Nome on our chart. The western parts of Alaska have been fairly dry lately, though plenty cold. The Bering Sea ice is well south and surrounding St. Paul and St. George, reducing their biggest snow source (showers forming as cold air off Siberia moves over the Bering Sea water). As a matter of fact the ice is not that far from Cold Bay. (More on Bering Sea ice here.)

The race is not over yet. While it is true that most areas getter drier for the next several months, and precipitation in warmer stations comes as rain more often, member, in the weather business, rules are meant to be broken, as are records. Valdez has had Marches with over 100 inches of snowfall at least thrice and their record for April is 71 inches! Stay tuned.

More snow rollers

I’ve seen wind driven snow rollers first hand four times in my life, and all four times were this winter! Click here for the blog post concerning the first episode on December 15. I saw them in action on Jan 10 (too dark for photography) and on February 28 I saw a bunch more after dark, and took some photos the next day with good light, although the rollers had been snowed in a bit (first photo below). March 6 was yet another day with the right conditions: strong winds and temperatures rising to around freezing after new dryish snow. Those rollers are shown in the next two photos below. The first shows some obvious tracks where the balls rolled (the larger one broke apart after rolling). I’d love to hear your reports or experiences with snow rollers, and see any photos, too.

28 Feb snow rollers 6 March snow rollers6 March snow rollersAs usual, click on these photos for larger versions.

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