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A new record: May received less than an inch of rain


With less than an inch of rain, May of 2015 is officially the driest on record.

Meteorologist Richard Lam, with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Juneau, said Petersburg only recorded 0.26 inches of rain last month.

The former record was set in 1996, when there was 1.15 inches of precipitation, according to NWS data.

This May set a second record in the longest stretch of consecutive days without measurable precipitation at 22, Lam added, beating the 20 day record set in 1958.

The reason was a broad high pressure system that kept storm tracks west, near Kodiak, for much of the month.

Uncommon for the area, a thunderstorm did bring a little rain on May 19, along with rare lighting strikes, one of which hit a transformer in Petersburg, knocking out the power. The other caused a fire in the north central part of Kupreanof Island in the Petersburg Ranger District.

The dry weather also raised fire concerns. On average, there are about 20 wildland fires U.S. Forest Service crews respond to per year in Southeast Alaska, according to Forest Fire Management Officer Tristan Fluharty.

Most are caused by human error, such as abandoned camp fires.

May 2015 was not only dry, but unusually warm with temperatures 5.4 degrees higher than average, Lam said. The highest was recorded on May 30 at 72 F.

The highest May temperature ever recorded was 79 F in 1995, according to NWS data.

June is looking to be more its usual self. Actually, Lam said, it’s already been wetter.

The first seven days of June typically see about an inch of rain, he noted. Petersburg has already had 3.3 inches thus far.

The NWS has been recording precipitation data in Petersburg for 76 years.


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