February 3, 2011 |

Winter low in white stuff

 Business has been slow at the town’s ski shop, following two months of low snowfall. "It’s more like a water-ski business," said owner Dan Egolf.

January’s snowfall total for Haines measured 17.2 inches. That compares to 67.9 inches last January, and 60.6 inches in January 2009. "That’s a little bit different," said Nikki Decker, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

For a January with as little snow as last month, you have to go back to 2003, when a scant 15.9 inches fell.

At 23.7 inches, snowfall in December also was down from a monthly average of about 37 inches, although amounts for that month can vary widely (8.6 inches in 2005 and 77.1 inches in 2006.) No precipitation at all was measured from Dec. 14-Dec. 23.

November saw 23.3 inches of snow.

The winter hasn’t been particularly warm, but it has defied expectations of lower than average temperatures due to La Nina weather patterns. "For us that typically means colder weather, but our lows are moving in from the south and they’ve been replacing the cold, Arctic flows rather rapidly," Decker said.

The average January temperature in Haines was 25 degrees, compared to 25.1 in January 2010. The second week in January was relatively dry, followed by a week of below-average temperatures.

As temperatures climbed above 40 F. last week, resident Zack James photographed a robin that was around for two days on Small Tracts Road. "I don’t think I’ve ever seen one before April before," said Ken Gross, a 36-year resident who also saw the bird.

Below-average temperatures are still forecast for February, Decker said. "La Nina has started to weaken in the last month, but it’s expected to last through spring."

The forecast for precipitation is a "middle ground," she said. "There are equal chances of above average, normal, and below average precipitation."

With the Ski Club’s tracker parked this week and trails washed out at 2 Mile and 25 Mile, Egolf was trying to stay on the bright side. "There’s still snow up high on top of Mount Ripinsky and on (Chilkat) Pass."