December 1, 2011 |

Local snowfall approaches 11-foot mark for November

Haines Borough workers and homeowners were shoveling roofs this week as rains fell on about six feet of accumulated snow.

Monday’s 21.5 inches of snow closed local schools and government offices and pushed November’s total snowfall to 129.8 inches. The previous record total for November, 68.6 inches, was set in 1975. Paul Swift, who maintains a cooperative weather station at Union Street, said 70 inches of snow was on the ground when the rain started.

The old record for total snowfall in November was surpassed on Tuesday, Nov. 22, when Swift measured nearly 13 inches, raising the monthly total to 77.2 inches. The average total snowfall for November is 18.7 inches, based on 26 years of weather records kept at the Haines Airport since 1949. The records, however, are incomplete.

Facilities manager Brian Lemcke was checking on borough buildings Monday and concerned about ice dams on the Chilkat Center roof that prevent water from running off the building and cause leaks inside.

"I have to assume it’s not okay, but I’m at a loss as to what to do about it," Lemcke said.

On Tuesday, maintenance man Phillip Wilde was checking drips filling two trash bins in the KHNS lobby, from an ice dam above a window there. He chipped icicles near the building entryway to stop an intermittent leak there. "It’s a continuous issue. My job is to divert the water or catch it and notify the borough and hope they do something."

A recurrent leak in the building’s boardroom three weeks ago hadn’t appeared as of Tuesday, but a sump pump that runs continuously in the building’s basement was moving water.

"I’m sure there will be issues with this kind of snow, but we’ll deal with them one at a time, as they come up," Lemcke said.

The 17 days of storms that ended Monday also brought record-cold. The lowest temperature, minus 2 F. at the Union Street station on Sunday, Nov. 20, topped a previous record low of 6 degrees for the day set at Haines airport in 1982. The weather station at Haines airport recorded a low of minus 7 F. Nov 20.

Kimberly Vaughn, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Juneau, said airport weather records from the years between 1955 and 1973 are missing.

Records from the Haines Terminal, a weather station maintained at the former Army tank farm at Lutak from 1957-88, are not included in the weather service’s searchable database, Vaughn said.

The Martin family also kept weather records from a station near the Lighthouse Restaurant from 1972 to about 2001, Jackie Martin said this week. It was unclear this week whether those records are included in ones used by the weather service.