Snow a no go for Valdez this winter season
Town that averages over twenty feet yearly barely got eight
Valdez has seen its fair share of extreme winter weather in recent years; this winter's extreme will be remembered for its lack of snow.
As of Monday, the Valdez Avalanche Center reported that the season's total snowfall was only 99 inches – eight and a quarter feet.
The National Weather Service reports an even more astonishing number.
"On snow, we've had 67.4 inches total since December," Bill Wittern, the meteorology technician manning the phones at the Valdez office said. "Total."
The weather service and the avalanche center use different locations and snowfield to measure snow and precipitation.
Before adding in this year's low numbers, Valdez averaged 326.3 inches (27.2 feet) of snow per year.
While a general lack of snow has plagued Alaska this winter season – the start of the Iditarod sled dog race had to be moved north to Fairbanks for reasonable amounts of snow – Valdez is following suit while portions of the Lower 48 have seen seasonal snowfall amounts double.
Season total snowfall for Thompson Pass snowfall as reported by the avalanche center is 298 inches.
The weather service did not keep historical records for Thompson Pass and stopped tracking seasonal snowfall historical information last year.
Valdez is not lacking only in snow. Its weather service personnel is also at an all-time low.
The weather service cut its Valdez operations late last year and it is now a one-man station and its local weather readings are not officially produced in Valdez.
Valdez Star photo
Snow has been spotting all this winter season. An inch or so of snow blanketed Alpine Woods Monday morning, rain washed it away later that night.
"The way it is, there's not much left in the station here," Wittern said.
Or the station's historical data. Wittern said he cannot say how this winter officially compares to the previously known lowest snow fall year.
"I've got nothing to compare it to," he said.
Valdez was home to a 24-hour hour, seven day a week operation until cuts began eating into the personnel and hours of operation a few years back.
Cuts to the weather service had already began when Valdez hit its second snowiest season on record, the winter of 2011/12. A whopping 437.9inches of snow swamped Valdez that year, though it missed the mark of the granddaddy year of them all: 560.7 inches in 1989/90.