A mix of rain and snow this week has officially made 2022 the wettest year in Juneau’s history, breaking the record set in 1991. With three weeks left in the year, 2022 could surpass that record by several inches.
According to the National Weather Service, Juneau has seen 85.31 inches of precipitation since Jan. 1. That’s a combined measure of melted snowfall and rain. It’s 24 inches more than Juneau gets in a normal year.
National Weather Service meteorologist Edward Liske says the first quarter of 2022 set the pace for a record-breaking year, with record rainfall in January and February across the panhandle.
“We had a very, very wet late winter and early spring period,” Liske said. “So that was the main thing that caused us to be really high this year.”
Juneau’s airport got double the normal amount of rainfall in January. A wet February surpassed the rainfall record set back in 1984.
Liske said this was caused by weather systems coming up from the South Pacific.
“The precipitation was starting to come out of a southerly direction,” he said. “So we had more wet systems, more warm systems, and most of that precipitation started falling as rain instead of snow.”
Precipitation for the rest of the year was pretty normal, though there were a few periods of heavy rain during late summer and early fall. In late September, intense rain contributed to a landslide that damaged several homes downtown.
Over the past century, annual rainfall in Juneau has increased by about 20 inches. And each of the past three years, 2020, 2021, and now 2022, have broken into the top ten wettest years on record. The Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center listed higher levels of precipitation as one of nine climate impacts in a report this past summer.
That pattern can be difficult to perceive on a year-by-year or even decade-by-decade basis. Even as precipitation trends higher, there will be some years that are especially wet and others that are especially dry.