Nearly two feet of snow in the past two weeks have opened Northwest Ski Resorts for the first time since mid-January in this year’s record low snow. Ironically March 31 is the last date that Snotel traditionally measures snowpack. The snow depth at the Mount Hood Station jumped from about 37 inches on March 23rd to 60 inches yesterday. But that’s still only 31 percent of average which is normally more than 100 inches this time of year.
There have been a lot of articles about the record low snowpack on Rainier and the Pacific Northwest including Hood while California is having near record excess snowpack (leading to a very rare blossoming Death Valley). AP notes the snowpack spectacularly dwarfs that last record low in 1977. For instance, the record low water content at Stampede Pass was 11.1 inches. It is now 2.5 inches. At Paradise less than 3 feet of snow remained on the meadows, with some spots having only a few inches. Normally, Paradise has 15 to 20 feet of snow in late winter.
The astronomy obsessed Hawaii is buzzing over a UFO over Mauna Kea and Haleakala on December 17, 2004. A moving image of the UFO (380K) was published as NASA’s photo of the day today (Feb. 8). Officials ruled out known satellites or aircraft. Current candidates include a known satellite that was somehow missed by heavens-above, a recently launched rocket, and a passing space rock. NASA has set up a ***VERY BUSY*** discussion thread to discuss it. One poster wrote: “What is truly bizarre is that this object is visible for a good 55 minutes at Haleakala and close to 30 minutes at Mauna Kea. Usually, satellites take a few dozen seconds or, at the most, a couple of minutes to cross the entire sky. “If this object is a satellite, it is either very slow moving or at a very high altitude. I checked all the possibilities at Heavens-Above and no satellite passes seem to fit this observation. It is also impossible to be a meteorite.” For what it is worth the 16-foot asteroid that passed in December flew between earth’s manmade satellites and the surface and was the second closest recorded approach in history. It appeared with virtually no warning. At the risk of giving a spoiler, the conensus on the board was that it was a satellite.
Sitnews reports that the 9.0 Sumatra earthquake that touched off the Boxing Day Tidal initiated 12 tiny earthquakes on Mount Wrangell, the 14,163 foot volcano in Alaska. Authorities believe this would be the longest documented reported of related quakes (7,000 miles). Wrangell heated up after the Good Friday 9.2 Alaska Quake in 1964 but ironically the 7.9 Denali fault quake in 2002 caused the mountain to calm down. Other Alaska volcanoes were not affected by the 2004 quake.
KGW reports hydrologists are very concerned about a horrific fire season this summer as the snow pack on Mount Hood (and the Northwest in general) is the third lowest in recorded history. Snow packs in the Willamette basin went from 37 percent of normal on Jan. 1 to 30 percent of normal by Jan. 31; the Malheur basin went from 78 percent of normal on Jan. 1 to 59 percent of normal by Jan. 31; and in the Klamath basin in southern Oregon, the snow pack retreated from 68 percent of normal to 48 percent of normal on Jan. 31. The area has never totallay recovered from the 2001 drought.
The Daily Press reports that 11 Boy Scouts and 3 rescuers were hospitalized with frostbite and hypothermia after being caught in a blizzard with subzero temperatures at Grayson Highlands State Park. Rescuers had to cut the laces off the Scouts frozen shoes to get their boots off. The Troop is from Gaston County, NC. Chief Deputy J.B. Johnson of the Grayson County, Va., sheriff’s department was quoted as saying, “Apparently, they didn’t think about the mountains being as treacherous … and apparently, they were not aware of the weather,” Johnson said of the troop’s adult leaders. “I have a comment I could make, but I’m going to keep it to myself.”
The Seattle Post-Intelligncer reports that most Washington ski resorts (including most on Raineir except Crystal) have closed because unseasonably warm temp and 7 inch rains have almost eliminated their snowpack. The resorts opened late (last week of December) because of the lack of snow to begin with. They have billed the unseasonable conditions “the Pineapple Express.”
The Boise Weekly reports Idaho has received its first application in more than 10 years for a new cyanidation gold mining facility. Desert Mineral MiningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proposed small facility is located a 15-mile crowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s flight from downtown Boise off of Blacks Creek Road in northwest Elmore County. The article notes that 90 percent of the gold mined in the U.S.uses cyanide. The article criticizes the application because it is not even mention the earthquake hazard of the Borah 7.3 quake in 1983.
The Honolulu Advertiser reports that there were 13,000 earthquakes were recorded in 2004 by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, only three were greater than magnitude 4. The average is 10,000 but Observatory seismologist Paul Okubo said there were fewer moderate to large quakes in the past year. There were 4,228 quakes were magnitude 1.5 or greater, and only 79 were big enough to have been felt by Big Island residents. The three largest quakes of 2004 Ã¢â‚¬â€ none greater than 4.5 Ã¢â‚¬â€ occurred beneath Kilauea on Feb. 5, Oct. 11 and Oct. 12. The principal source of earthquakes are Kilauea, Mauna Loa and Lo’ihi, all active volcanoes. Lo’ihi, about 6 miles south of the Big Island and 2,000 feet deep, is the youngest. It is expected to rise above sea level sometime in the next few thousand years. The most recent big earthquake in Hawai’i occurred in 1975 when a magnitude 7.2 temblor shook the Big Island, causing a tsunami that killed two campers in Halape, Puna.
The article was prompted by a 3.6 quake this week between Waiki’i and the Mauna Kea summit at a depth of 13 miles. Books on earthquakes.
The Honolulu Star Bulletin reports that storms with subzero temperatures and 80 mph winds dumped 6 to 12 inches of snow on the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa summits prompting closing of the road. The storms also resulted in 30 foot waves on Oahu’s north coast and pushed a foot of sand onto the road leading into Kaena Point State Park
The American Observatory webpage has links to some dramatic webcams of the snow.
Mauna Kea link on Forum.
An article in Columbian.com notes that the official snow measuring station on Mount Hood shows 30 inches of snow which is 21% of average for this time of year. Statewide Washington shows snowpack 38% of normal and Oregon is 46%. Forecasts are calling for more extended dry weather.
An AP article published in the Billings Gazette and other publications notes that most of Yellowstone’s earthquakes occur in late spring and early summer. The study by Lizet Christiansen of the U.S. Geological Survey suspects that snow melt is responsible. Most of the earthquakes that shake Yellowstone National Park happen during the busiest time of year – but hardly anyone notices. The study analyzed earthquakes between 1984 and 2004 at Yellowstone, the Long Valley caldera in eastern California, and Mount Lassen, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier.