UPDATE: ACCAP’s Rick Thoman wrote on Saturday that “Nome’s all-time April and early spring precipitation records were broken in the storm winding down. The maximum 24-hour precipitation was 0.76″ (4am Friday to 4am Saturday), which breaks the previous record of 0.75″ April 28-29, 1995. April 16-17 precipitation total of 1.10″ is the highest two-day total in March or April, previous record 1.03″ April 30-May 1, 1937.”

ORIGINAL: Rain instead of the usual snow is currently hitting the ground in Nome, an unusual sight for this time of year. The total rainfall is up to half an inch as of this morning and according to one climatologist, it could reach record breaking amounts.

“Depending on how much rain we wind up with, it could easily be the greatest rainfall in the springtime of record in Nome.”

– Rick Thoman

Rick Thoman is a climate specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP). Thoman’s forecast indicates that from when it started raining in Nome Thursday, through the end of today, more than an inch of rain could fall locally.

That has never happened in Nome’s springtime weather history, according to Thoman.

“Right now, the greatest amount of precipitation from a storm that was almost entirely rain in Nome was eight tenths of an inch back in 1920 and that’s the only event that’s really like this at this point in the season.”

According to NOAA’s climate prediction center, the outlook for May calls for increased chances of above normal temperatures to hit Nome and Western Alaska next month.

With the April showers and warmer weather on the way, could they then bring May flowers for local gardeners? Thoman says that is pretty likely.

“Well one of the big things that the rain is going to do at low elevations, it’s going to really saturate the snow pack of course, and it’s already melting out some of that so that will be accelerated due to this rain. We will have a little bit of a turn to cooler weather and sea ice is likely to hang in.”

Thoman mentions that once this rainstorm passes, later on in the weekend, Nome and the Seward Peninsula may see snow again further inland, especially in some spots of higher elevation. That could delay the road to Council opening up further, as it would once again be covered in snow.

Meanwhile, St. Lawrence Island and communities along the Chukchi Sea Coast are under a winter storm warning through this evening, which is expected to bring several inches of snow to that part of the region.

Image at top: A public street in Nome covered in water from the constant rain and snow melt on this mid-April day. Photo from Davis Hovey, KNOM (2020).