May 10, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 19

Springtime weather topsy-turvy

April showers bring May flowers, or whatever.

A scant .51 inches of rain fell in Haines last month, making it the fourth driest April on record, according to National Weather Service officials in Juneau. But the 1.91 inches of rain that fell during the first seven days of May made it the wettest start for the month on record here.

The closest the start of May has been this wet was in 1974, when 1.67 inches fell during the first seven days.

Typically, only .035 inches come during May’s first week and only 1.45 inches fall the entire month, said Brian Bezenck, weather service meteorologist. “May should be the driest month for you,” Bezenck said.

April’s total rainfall, measured at the Haines airport, was 1.53 inches less than the average for the month there. The lowest rainfall for April was .35 inches measured at the airport in 1979.

Sunny, dry weather in April was good news for recreationists, as well as for borough officials who were anticipating flood-like conditions from rain and melting of snowpacks after record-setting accumulation.

“I was expecting high flows (due to storm sewer infiltration) at the sewer plant, but we didn’t see it,” said Scott Bradford, the borough’s water and sewer plant operator. “We had a pretty slow melt.”

Firefighters responded to an improperly tended campfire that spread in grass 150 feet up the beach at Picture Point on Easter.

Meteorologist Bezenck said it’s still possible for May to dry out.

Area forester Roy Josephson, who advises the municipality on fire danger and burn bans, recently heard statistics that suggest drier weather is coming.

Josephson said research on Alaska weather at a conference he recently attended showed that winters of above average snowfall typically are followed by summers of above average wildfires.

“According to that line of thinking, we get so much precipitation in a year, and if we get it all in the winter, we’re not getting it in the summer,” Josephson said. “I don’t think you can necessarily say that about specific areas, but according to his study, that theory appears to be true.”

May, June and July are typically the driest months in Haines.