Termination dust hits the peaks above the Mendenhall Glacier on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Termination dust hits the peaks above the Mendenhall Glacier on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Termination dust harbinger of cold to come

So long, summer.

Termination dust is the term applied to the light snow high on the mountain peaks where temperatures, commonly seen as the punctuation at the end of the warm months and harbinger of oncoming winter.

At lower altitudes, Juneau hasn’t received its first frost of the season yet, said meteorologist Pete Boyd, looking at data collected at Juneau International Airport.

“It has not gotten below 32 degrees,” Boyd said. “The lowest temperature we’ve had is 39 degrees.”

Termination dust on the Observation Peak lights up in the sun on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Termination dust on the Observation Peak lights up in the sun on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Boyd said Juneau usually hits its first frost by Sept. 28, on average. The earliest it’s ever hit the freezing mark was on Aug. 24, 1969. The latest was Nov. 7, 1960. Boyd also said there’s good news after the hot, dry summer Juneau has experienced.

“October is going to be warm and wet, and it’s looking similar to the rest of the winter,” Boyd said. “It’s going to be a greater chance of above normal temps for the month.”

Before anyone breaks out their bathing suit, average temperatures in October will be roughly 42 degree, Boyd said. The average high is 47 degrees; the average low, 38 degrees.

Juneau’s first snow of more than 1/10th of an inch, or what Boyd calls “measurable snow,” comes on average about Nov. 4. The earliest recorded snowfall at the airport occurred on Oct. 2, 2000. The latest first snowfall was on Dec. 14, 2002.


• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 523-2271 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.


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