A panoramic of Douglas Island from underneath the Douglas Bridge on Monday, April 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

A panoramic of Douglas Island from underneath the Douglas Bridge on Monday, April 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Rain, sleet, hail, graupel: It’s been a weird weather week for Juneau

Weather continues to be warmer than normal

If you were tracking precipitation in Juneau this week, you might have been expecting frogs to drop from the sky next.

Rain, sleet, hail, graupel (those mini-snow balls that are like hail but smaller and softer) and even snow fell in Juneau this week, making for one of the wildest and most confusing weather stretches of the year. The snow — which amounted to just 0.1 inch — was the first April snowfall in Juneau since 2014, and was the latest snowfall to happen since April 30, 2006.

It was the eighth-latest snowfall on record in Juneau. The latest snowfall came on May 13, 1965, according to National Weather Service statistics. April was about two degrees above normal and about half an inch of precipitation above normal.

Meteorologist Bob Tschantz said via phone Friday that cold air from the western part of the state swept down into the Gulf of Alaska and then down to Southeast. Temperatures were low in the clouds, and when precipitation started to fall, it brought cold temperatures down with it.

“March, we had that period of warm weather, (then) we suddenly had chilly weather,” Tschantz said. “It’s springtime and rapid transitions can happen this time of year.”

Starting this weekend, another one of those transitions could be coming to the capital city. Forecasts for this weekend and next week call for sunny skies and warmer temperatures, and Tschantz said May is likely to be warmer and drier than April as well.

March was a record-setting one for Southeast, as 26 sites in the region experienced record highs at some point in March, according to NWS statistics. Juneau experienced its 19th driest March on record, and the Juneau International Airport — which usually experiences about a foot of snow in March — only got 0.3 inches of snowfall.

Much of Southeast Alaska has been experiencing a drought for more than a year, which even a somewhat wet April can’t stop. As of the end of March, 52 inches of snow had fallen at the airport during the season, well short of its usual average of 86.7 inches. April’s 0.1 inch of snowfall didn’t move the needle much.

Kevin Prestegard and Liz Diamond descend the Calhoun Avenue stairs under a blossoming cherry tree on Friday, April 19, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Kevin Prestegard and Liz Diamond descend the Calhoun Avenue stairs under a blossoming cherry tree on Friday, April 19, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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