May wettest, 2nd coldest on record
It’s official. May’s weather was the wettest on record for Haines and the second coldest, according to the National Weather Service. The average high temperature for the month, recorded at the Haines airport, was 50.6 degrees.
The 5.16 inches of rain that fell at the airport topped the previous record, 4.83 inches that fell in 1985. It was also nearly triple the average of 1.75 inches for the month.
“It’s terrible,” said farmer and former Mayor Bob Henderson, 92, whose garden went in May 30, the latest date ever in about 50 years of raising vegetables here.
“Most years we get the corn in, in April, but we didn’t even think of that. We still had snow on the ground in April. In May it was so cold it was like winter, so we didn’t plant until last week,” Henderson said.
That’s cutting it close for the Haines growing season, he said. “You figure it isn’t worth putting a garden in after June first, so I got it in two days ahead of time.” This year for the first time, Henderson’s is a community garden.
Nicole Hannon, a meteorologist and forecaster for the weather service in Juneau who spent summers in Haines growing up, said the average high in May might seem warmer than it was. “A couple nice days probably bumped that number up,” she said.
Only May 1952 was colder than the past month, with an average high of 49.2 degrees, Hannon said. The normal average high temperature for the month is 57 degrees, but the highs sometimes go into the 80s.
May’s high temperature came on the 24th, when the mercury hit 63 degrees. A low of 43 degrees came May 11 and May 12.
May was the coldest on record for Juneau, with an average high of 48.9 degrees, Hannon said. It was the fourth wettest May in the capital city, she said.
Although Paul Swift said the thermometer at his weather station on Union Street hit 70 degrees Monday, that mark hasn’t officially been reached at the airport. According to Hannon, the temperature there hit only 68 degrees Monday, and went a single digit higher at Wells Bridge.
But Monday’s weather was warm enough for Kaci Keffer Ahmuty and some girlfriends to take their young children to a sandy beach on Lutak Inlet and strip down to bikinis. “I was thinking, ‘Oh, my God. Here I am in a bikini and it’s 64 degrees out.’ When I lived in southern California, when the temperature dropped into the 60s, we turned the heat on… How things have changed,” Keffer Ahmuty said.
Farmer Henderson said cold weather isn’t all bad news for gardeners. Peas, potatoes, carrots and broccoli all do okay in cooler temperatures, he said. “Cold weather can be a help to keep the insects down. In hot weather, you can’t raise broccoli because of the insects.”
April’s weather was the fourth driest on record for Haines.