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.
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 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.”
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.