Fireworks from the finale of Juneau’s Fourth of July celebration light up the sky earlier this year. No such official celebration is planned New Year’s Eve, and both restrictions on personal fireworks use and stormy winter weather will mean a darker hue to the celebrations welcoming in the year 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Fireworks from the finale of Juneau’s Fourth of July celebration light up the sky earlier this year. No such official celebration is planned New Year’s Eve, and both restrictions on personal fireworks use and stormy winter weather will mean a darker hue to the celebrations welcoming in the year 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Weather drops the ball on New Year’s Eve

Personal fireworks again available for limited locations, but wet and windy night may dampen spirits

Juneau’s wettest year ever is forecast to provide a properly soggy and squally sendoff for people hoping to celebrate the new year with fire and flashes.

Fireworks are again on sale at Tlingit and Haida’s Smoke Signals Fireworks from 3-7 p.m. through New Year’s Eve, but for the second straight year can only be set off in limited places and/or limited under revised city rules. There’s no official fireworks shows scheduled and an “annual fireworks thread” on the Juneau Community Collective Facebook page had scant suggestions for unofficial gatherings as of midday Thursday.

There are, however, plenty of advice/gripes on social media from pet owners about coping with the big bangs to come, along with postings of the Juneau Police Department’s dispatch number to report violations.

A bigger damper, however, might be a stroke-of-midnight weather forecast calling for a more than 90% chance of heavy precipitation, temperatures just above freezing and winds up to 19 mph. For people pondering lighting up before getting lit, prospects are still sobering with wet snow and wind forecast much of the day before turning to rain in the evening.

For locals who nonetheless are in a sparkler spirit, these are the city’s protocols for pyrotechnics.

■ Concussive fireworks such as mortars and shells larger than 3/4 of an inch can be used on private property outside the Fire Service Area from 10 a.m. Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. Jan. 1, and from 10 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Jan. 1. Other types of fireworks ranging from Roman candles to bottle rockets to cone fountains can be used on all private property during those hours.

■ The Fire Service Area extends from the end of Thane Road to Cohen Drive; out to the North Douglas boat launch and up to the houses on Fish Creek Road; out to the end of Sandy Beach on Douglas; all of Lemon Creek; and all of the Mendenhall Valley.

The new rules have resulted in plenty of calls to the police during celebratory periods, but generally verbal warnings when officers are able to respond are sufficient to resolve the situation, said JPD Lt. Krag Campbell.

“If it’s outside the normal hours we get a decent number of calls,” he said. But “typically it’s very rare that we ever write citations.”

The department will have extra officers on duty New Year’s Eve, but not to the extent of staffing on the Fourth of July, Campbell said. He said other priorities such as drunk driving and disturbances have to take priority over reports of fireworks violations.

“We get reports on it, so availability is dependent on staffing and other calls,” he said. “Unfortunately it falls low on the priority scale.”

Earlier this month, the state Department of Public Safety announced the holiday season, running through Jan. 1, would include additional Alaska State Troopers patrolling highways and roads looking for impaired and unsafe drivers.

“We all enjoy the holiday cheer but driving impaired can ruin the fun by causing an accident that hurts or kills you or someone else on the road,” said Col. Mo Hughes, director of the Alaska State Troopers, in a news release announcing the effort. “If you drive impaired, we will find you, arrest you, and impound your car.”

Tips for keeping pets at peace during fireworks from Grateful Dogs of Juneau include making sure dogs are secure so they can’t escape, provide calming medication with enough time for it take effect before the bangs begin, take dogs for long walks before fireworks to burn off energy that might boost anxiety, use background or white noise to deflect the intensity of outside noise, and don’t leave pets alone and offer comforting behavior if possible.

• Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com

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