Central Kenai Peninsula sees more rain this summer than usual

Central Kenai Peninsula residents have gotten practice at being prepared for less than perfect weather this summer.

Steady rain has led to canceled Peninsula Oilers baseball games, slick hiking trails and some wet fishing days so far this summer. On Wednesday, the city of Soldotna cancelled its weekly Wednesday Market because of excessive water retention in Soldotna Creek Park, where the event is always held.

So far, the central peninsula area has had a wetter summer than average, along with many other areas of southcentral Alaska. Up through July 20, the precipitation monitor at the Kenai Municipal Airport had measured about 6.85 inches of rain this year, about three-quarters of an inch more than the average of 6.12 inches. The central peninsula has seen about 33 percent more rain in July so far than the average, according to a map from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Water and Climate Center.

January, February, March and April in Kenai were drier months than the average, but May and June both saw more precipitation than the average, according to the National Water and Climate Center.

Anchorage is ahead of its usual precipitation for the year as well, though not by much, said Michael Kutz, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Anchorage.

The increases may not sound like much, but an inch of rain can mean a lot cumulatively, he said.

“When you think about one inch of rain over an acre of ground, one, you’re producing about 27,000 gallons of water,” he said. “You can kind of comprehend the amount of water that’s getting moved around there.”

Homer, so far, is a little behind its usual average rainfall this year, he said.

Historically, the central peninsula’s precipitation builds over the summer months to a peak in September, decreasing in October and declining from November until April, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. Tuesday and Wednesday’s rain cleared off Thursday to partially clear skies on the central peninsula, and the National Weather Service’s forecast predicts the front that brought rain to Southcentral Alaska will weaken and move into the Gulf of Alaska in the next several days.

“Conditions will continue to improve Friday as an upper level ridge pushes further into the region and supports clearing skies and warmer temperatures,” the forecast states. “A few diurnal showers could form by afternoon along the Alaska Range and Talkeetna Mountains, but generally rainfall will be limited.”

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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