Rain sets single-day record
A rare May storm dropped more than two inches of rain on town Sunday, about a half-inch more than the average total rainfall for the entire month.
May is typically the driest month of the year in the Chilkat Valley.
“It is possible to get precipitation amounts this high in May, but not very often,” said Edward Liske, forecaster and meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Juneau.
The long downpour set records in Haines and knocked out power twice.
Sunday’s accumulation smashed the daily records for rain on May 21, which included 0.15 inches in 1999 at Paul Swift’s downtown weather station, and 0.58 inches in 1956 at the Haines airport weather station.
Average total rainfall for the month of May is 1.45 inches.
Measured rainfall at the airport Sunday was 2.37 inches. Swift said he measured two inches of rain at his Union Street station at 8 a.m. Sunday and an additional 1.43 inches at the same time Monday.
Meteorologist Liske of Juneau said records for monthly accumulation in May included 2.11 inches in 1955 at the airport and 1.29 inches in 2012 at Swift’s weather station.
Other Southeast communities including Juneau, Sitka, Skagway, Hoonah, Klawock, Hollis and Yakutat also broke rain records.
High winds and a generator malfunction caused two town-wide blackouts Sunday evening. Darren Belisle, Alaska Power and Telephone’s manager of power operations, said the first outage at 6:47 p.m. took out power from all of Haines and Skagway for 13 minutes before generators kicked in.
Another 10-minute power outage in Haines occurred at 8:30 p.m. as a result of a generator that failed.
Hydroelectric power from Goat Lake was not restored until Tuesday morning.
“To be able to restore both towns on hydro because of the larger loads we needed Kasidaya Creek online. When we have an outage there is a mechanical lockout that engages at Kasidaya that requires our crews to reset it in person rather than remotely. With high winds, we couldn’t get out there by boat Monday,” Belisle said.
State roads foreman Matt Boron said most of the flooding was in town and there weren’t slides at 19 Mile Haines Highway, a chronic trouble spot. Only about a half inch of rain fell out the road.
“The big one stayed silent but we had a lot of activity, though nothing earth-shaking for Haines. The rain and snowmelt made a pretty serious water flow for a relatively short period of time,” Boron said.
Boron said some of the debris that came down may have built up last fall, which saw unusually dry weather. October, typically the town’s wettest month, brought little rain.