Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Warm weather ties records downtown


Snow in town by Halloween – at least a dusting – is shorthand for when winter starts in the Chilkat Valley.

On Monday, not even the 3,600-foot-high summit of Mount Ripinsky was showing a dusting. With an average downtown temperature of 40 degrees for the week ending Oct. 28, a white Halloween looked unlikely.

“The temperature is five to 10 degrees above normal for you guys right now,” said Richard Lam, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Juneau. “We have a really strong storm system in the Aleutians bringing a lot of warm air from the Pacific over Alaska and the Panhandle,” approaching and eclipsing some daily records in Haines, Southcentral and the Interior.

The normal high temperature downtown this time of year is 40-41, Lam said. That compares to Saturday’s high of 53, which tied a record high for the date set in 1979. A low temperature of 47 on Oct. 19 in town tied the record for the highest low temperature for that date, also reached in 1999, 2002 and 2003.

The warm weather has been a welcome surprise for workers at exposed locations around town. Matthew Stokes and Danny Scott were on top of the Alaska Mountain Guides building at Second Avenue and Mud Bay Road Tuesday, starting to replace the roof.

“(The weather’s) been good, but you can check back with us in three weeks,” Scott said.

Brian Clark, project supervisor for Pacific Pile and Marine crews rebuilding the Port Chilkoot Dock, said north winds out of Skagway will be his crew’s biggest challenge. That’s when workers will don insulated coveralls and insulated boots. “They’re just out there in their leathers and rubbers out there now. Nothing fancy.”

The weather has been a little more typical for late October out the highway. More than six inches of snow was measured at the U.S. Customs station at 42 Mile on Oct. 24, Lam said. Juneau also has seen some colder nights than Haines, with ice-scraper morning temperatures last weekend, Lam said.

“In Haines, you have more cloud cover and stronger south winds,” Lam said.

Interior temperatures soared this week. Delta Junction reached 62 degrees Monday, smashing a previous high for the date of 43 degrees set in 1962. Daily temperatures in Fairbanks were ranging between 38 and 51 degrees in recent days, comparing to a historic average low of 6 degrees this time of year and high of 21, Lam said.

The mild temperatures won’t last much longer. Temperatures over the weekend may not reach 40, Lam said. “It’s just a more seasonal air mass coming back to our area. And more fall-like weather.”