What a difference a year can make at least in terms of weather conditions! Just one year ago today light snow started falling in the early afternoon and continued to build in intensity across the remainder of November 9th and continued snowing moderately right into the early afternoon of the 10th. When the snow fall finally ceased the Talkeetna area saw anywhere from 11” of snow up to 14” with 12” being the average accumulation. This turned out to be the single largest snow event of what is now the history making ‘winter that wasn’t’ of 2013 – 2014. Right up through the first week in November we’d seen well above normal air temps and record-setting precipitation but all in the form of rain except on brief period of snow showers in late October. The mosquitoes actually hung on through all of October and were still biting in early November. What a change from this year when the little blood suckers all but disappeared in middle September but then we saw slightly below normal rain for September and only 30% of the normal 2.90” of precipitation in October. In addition our air temps were slightly below normal for all of September and even more so across October. While we did see some snow and cold across November and into middle December both January and February set all time records for warmth and we ended up at just 40% of typical snow fall for the season.
So heaven knows it has been plenty cold enough to snow but we’ve just lacked the moisture to this point. And sadly it appears this dry trend is continuing into November. Across the last three weeks we’ve seen many single digit morning lows which is more typical of December and February but the air remains very dry. As such it’s a safe bet to say we will not see a major snow event today or at any time this week. Most of the locals are literally chomping at the bit to see accumulating snow and I’m right there with them! Since early October I’ve seen more and more dog teams out and about pulling ATVs; it’s a safe bet they’d much prefer to be hauling a sled through a ‘white world’. But Mother Nature is just not cooperating with our wishes, at least to this point. After the disappointment of last ‘winter’ I am so hoping to experience a true Alaskan winter this year replete with feet of accumulated snow, temps dropping into the -20 F to -30 F range and some real winter storms. I was told last year that even the aforementioned 12”+ snow fall in early November was just a small snow event and storms producing half again as much snow were not uncommon. I would truly love to see a real storm dump two feet or more across a day or two; that’s more like what I envisioned when I moved up here.
As those of you who follow this blog are aware I love meteorology and have a special love of cold and snow. I knew prior to my relocation I would be giving up almost all my beloved thunderstorms but I was hoping extreme snow and cold would help make up for this loss. Last summer I believe I heard thunder maybe five times and saw lightning once far away against the Talkeetna Mountains; this is a far cry from what I was used to experiencing living in places like SE Michigan, SW Ohio and south central Wisconsin. It is not lost on me that the largest single snow event I experienced occurred in the early 1980’s in – of all places – Greenville, Illinois which is 70 miles ENE of St. Louis. In early February a freak storm dropped two inches of rain before contacting cold air from the plains which switched the precipitation over to snow and in just 16 hours it accumulated 28”! This shut down St. Louis for three days and made national headlines. It just seems odd for someone who has lived in so many much more northerly locations across so many decades.
For now I remain just hopeful that we will eventually see moisture intermingle with our currently cool air and produce snow. I also hope and pray last ‘winter’ was truly the anomaly it was made out to be and we will see a more normal Alaskan winter for the 2014 – 2015 season. Outside it is growing darker as we pick up a southeasterly flow pulling up some moisture from the Pacific Ocean but sadly if we even see any snow today it will be mainly in the form of more snow showers. In the end it’s all up to Mother Nature and she’s already shown me she can be as fickle as the day is long. But I remain hopeful she will slide back into her ‘old ways’ and provide this area with a real Talkeetna winter…