Juneau will soon have a reminder of what makes a normal winter.
On Thursday morning, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Juneau and portions of northern Southeast. Four to eight inches of snow are expected in the capital city, with heavier amounts possible in Gustavus, Pelican and other locations along the coast.
“We are looking at a front kind of pushing this way,” weather service forecaster Wes Adkins said by phone on Thursday afternoon. “I think we’ll still have dry weather through tonight, and then snow chances increasing through tomorrow. We’re thinking the heaviest snowfall will occur Friday night.”
Moisture coming from the west will combine with cold air already in place over the panhandle to generate the snow.
The seasonable snowfall won’t last long — the warmer moisture coming from the southwest will push cold air out of the region, allowing rain to fall from Saturday onward.
Adkins cautioned that storms of this type are difficult to forecast; if the cold air remains longer than expected, it can generate more snow. If the cold air dries out the incoming moisture, it could result in less snow than forecast.
He said forecasters this time have “moderately high” confidence in the snowfall amounts.
As always, snow across the capital city will be unevenly distributed because of the city’s microclimates. Typically, snowfall amounts toward the upper end of the forecasted total can be expected at Eaglecrest Ski Area and in the Mendenhall Valley, with lighter amounts in downtown Juneau.
So far this winter, Juneau has had 30.5 inches of snowfall, below the 37.2 inches that is normal for this point in the season. Juneau averages 86.7 inches of snow per year but has not had a normal winter snowfall since the winter of 2013-2014.
The National Weather Service is also encouraging Juneau residents to record local observations using a smartphone application. Download the mPING app for free on the iTunes and Google Play stores. The application was developed by the University of Oklahoma National Severe Storms Laboratory.
• Contact reporter James Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 523-2258.