July 21, 2011 |

Rain, rain, don't stay away

Haines is not experiencing the usual and near-constant bouts of rain Southeast Alaska communities are known for in the summer.

The National Weather Service says Haines over the past 12 years, has averaged 3.9 inches of precipitation between May 1 and July 16. This year during that time, the area received only 1.45 inches, the third driest summer, behind 2009 and 2004. The heaviest rainfall recorded in that 77-day period since 1998 was 6.81 inches in 2006.

Resident Paul Swift is a 10-year volunteer monitor with the National Weather Service, recording temperatures, precipitation and soil temperature daily. He said his records show Haines rainfall has been only one-seventh of what it was last year.

He saw the lack of precipitation beginning in the winter while monitoring snowfall on Mount Ripinsky. Swift has maintained a monitoring station at the 2,400-foot point of the mountain and said snowfall usually tops eight to 10 feet. It was as high as 14 feet in the winter of 2006-2007.

This winter, the snow only reached a depth of five feet at its peak.

Long-time farmer Bob Henderson said this is the first time his five-acre pasture has not produced enough grass to sustain his horses and he’d had to supplement with feed.

"The grass just dried up," he said.