A Light Snow Pack

Snow Water @ 3600' west of Mt. Hood

Snow Water @ 5,400' on Mt. Hood

Here are two images showing the poor state of the snowpack up in the Cascades. Friday is Snow Survey Day when the local media gets escorted up to a snow survey site on Mt. Hood by the NRCS. Those are the folks that maintain all the SNOTEL sites in the mountains. If you’ve lived in the Western USA long, you know that we have generally dry summers. The eastern USA is drier in the winter, but moist in the summer; the opposite is true out here. That means we rely on winter snow in the mountains as our “reservoirs” of water to get us through the dry season. So how are we doing? The January survey wasn’t good due to a dry and mild month. Very little changed this month; in fact we are down slightly in most spots during the last 30 days or so.  As a result we can expect low runoff from our rivers this spring.  There have most definitely been years in the past where we get a good dumping of mountain snow in later March or even early-mid April, but nothing of the sort appears likely through at least the first week of March according to the long-range models.

Some interesting things to point out on the charts (click for a closer view).  The light blue lines indicate the average snowpack through the winter.  The green is last winter.  The dark blue is this winter so far.  Notice the difference this winter between the higher elevation sites and lower sites.  Even though it’s a lower than average year up high, the snowpack has continued to slowly increase.  Compare that to the lower elevation spot (3600′ north of ZigZag).  See how the snowpack hasn’t changed in months?  Small snowfalls have been offset by some warm rains which melt the snow.  Also notice the very wet and cool March last year which dumped snow up in the Cascades.  I have a feeling that won’t be the case (as already mentioned) through at least the first half of the month.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, and even more pronounced on the maps tonight, the split-flow pattern continues next week.  In fact I don’t see all that much rain next week.  I also see the 00z GFS has 850mb temps at/above -1 C degrees all the way through ten days!  No snow below 3,000′ in sight…

I’ll be off for tomorrow, so no posts until Monday.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

118 Responses to A Light Snow Pack

  1. imperiet says:

    I have a stupid question.

    00z, which means midnight GMT right? Why then does it run at 19 GMT-8 for us?

  2. Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

    I have no research to prove this completely, but I’ve just come to the conclusion that this late Spring/Summer could yet again give some good thunderstorm activity. Not sure about major heat waves like 2009 or any sort of drought, but i know storms are coming.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

      Just another interesting point =

      You know, me and some friend of mine were discussing severe weather by email in Fall of 2008. And we were both anticipating weather about as intense as the June 4th outbreak, well ahead of time. Not sure if this was instinct or if that was actually my “7th sense?” 😉

      ‘Cause I’m getting some similar thoughts now.

    • boydo3 N Albany says:

      Timmy, wish casting is alive and well. But hey, I hope you’re right!

    • Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

      Last year so wasn’t wish casting in my case, but yeah you’re right!

    • W7ENK says:

      That was me, wasn’t it Timmy? 🙂 I probably still have those e-mails saved somewhere… I’m a digital pack-rat! 😀

      We also nailed last years ‘Arctic Blast’ almost to the hour about two weeks out, didn’t we?

      Weirdest part was last winter, fantasizing about a significant tornado in the valley, then having a small one hit my house in May… Creepy!!!

      I think I’ll be careful what I wish for from now on. 😯

    • Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

      Oh yeah it was you, I think it was also another person I had close contact with as well.

      Man I don’t have those emails I sent so do you think you could forward some to me Erik? 🙂

    • W7ENK says:

      Sure! I’ll dig around for them tomorrow.

  3. Cherie says:

    March comes in like a lamb & goes out like a lion??? what will it bring?? 🙂

  4. TVWeatherProducer says:

    Reminder, the next Oregon AMS meeting will be March 16th at KPTV. Mark Nelsen hosts and will recap the winter along with Charles Dalton of the Portland NWS Office. Meeting details at the Oregon AMS Website or fan page on Facebook !

  5. …are we so bored that all there is to do is argue pointless points?….?????
    …23 out of 26….yes indeed, it’s going to be an interesting (fire season) summer unless there’s some serious late winter into as late as possible spring….

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      I’m rarely bored.

      59.9 light offshore flow.

    • Punxsutawney (aka HIO Phil at work by Sunset High) ~280' says:

      I wish I had time to be bored; it’s been at least a decade lol.

      Radar showing rain about to move into the valleys from the sw.

  6. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    Nice day today. Despite the cloudy skies it is 59.5 at my place. Oh and I agree with the Western Weather talk. Let’s cease this immediately. Heck! I love Western Weather Forum! 😆

  7. Mr Data says:

    J.R Flavel: Why do you always have to have the western weather attitude?

    You need to obey rule number 3 or go to Western for your childish behavior.

    This is pretty obvious, but avoid being rude or taunting others too.

    • Ryan (Walnut Grove) says:

      You did post a very pointless and weather irrelevant post there big guy.

    • in no way i was trying to be rude… I am sorry you took it that way. In all respect I was thanking you for the update like I said. What is the western weather attitude?…. LOL your telling me to obey rule number 3… now thats funny. go pop some more pills so you act normal.

    • Ryan (Walnut Grove) says:

      And seriously for the 1,000,000th time. This is the KPTV Weather Blog not Western Wx. I don’t go to Western Wx for a reason so let’s not western up the KPTV Wx Blog!!!

    • all mr data does is always talk about how the western people act or the things that go on over there. Be nice if just stop talking about that place… but as long as mr data is lurking around on this blog i doubt that will ever happen. but its chill

    • dabears (Hillsboro-Tanasbourne) says:

      Honestly Mr Data I think you just need to relax. Stop bringing up Western. For someone who claims to hate it so much, you sure to talk about it a lot.

    • Stevengibson says:

      J.R lol i see what you mean this guy

  8. Punxsutawney (aka HIO Phil at work by Sunset High) ~280' says:


    I’m at the risk of being a broken record here; it’s no surprise, but February came in below average in the precipitation department again. That’s now 23 out of the last 26 months at or below average at PDX, 23 out of the last 26 below average at KHIO.

    Total Diff % of Avg
    PDX 2.80 -1.38 67%
    HIO 4.06 -0.66 86%
    VUO 3.77 -1.09 78%
    AST 7.41 -0.46 94%
    SLE 4.07 -1.02 80%
    EUG 4.58 -1.77 72%

    • Ryan (Walnut Grove) says:

      Yikes! This summer is going to a pretty major drought unless the weather picks up late March-May.

  9. Mr Data says:

    I had to buy myself a new ethernet board as the cheapo that came with my PC died the (insert human explict word here) on me.

    (The lights suddenly went out and would never come back on)

    I am also doing GED at home as I can access the GED stuff which I need the internet connection.

  10. Tyler in Hazel Dell says:

    Was a nice day for an outing to the



    Saw quite a few birds, including a ton of geese, ducks and a couple of bald eagles.

    There were lots of people out today, so no hiking for me! The walk around the refuge was around 4 miles or so however.

  11. peanut says:

    I thought of something funny today and think most here will agree. In regards to all the big hub bub they are making back east that the news stations were out of line labeling the storms as “snowacaines” or “snowmaggedon”. My funny is, if they were having the kind of winter we have had they would be calling them “snoreasters” 🙂

  12. Currently 59.4° and partly sunny after a high of 61.8° today.

  13. Hockey games don’t get much better than this!


  14. Mr Data says:

    I didn’t even get to finish my sentence before it submited my comment………..http://www.smileyhut.com/angry/ablow.gif

    As I was GOING to say: It’s just like with the weather: As soon as everyone issues warnings/watches mother nature decides to throw a curveball at the Mets. 😮 😦

    Perhpas with all our warning deviced out we will never have an exciting weather episode again due to ‘fate’ knowing that we know.

    Well anyways it’s 53F here and partly cloudy which is better then overcast and light drizzle. 😛

  15. Mr Data says:

    Just like with the weather.

  16. ChuckyD81 says:

    I saw/heard a LOT of incorrect reporting/blogging/talking regarding the tsunami yesterday.

    To my knowledge, there was never a tsunami warning issued for Oregon and Washington…only an advisory.

    Couldn’t help but to say that.

  17. Jesse-Orchards says:

    The models have been trending sharply colder in the mid/long range, with the change to cooler weather starting as early as day 4-5.

    Looks as if March could possibly end up being a decent month for the mountains if the pattern plays out like the last several GFS runs have suggested. Here’s hoping!

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