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. Ben Randall says:



  2. Josh "The Snowman" From Everett,WA says:

    Weather forecasters striking out on the next couple of days?

    Unless that monster system starts splitting real quick I just don’t see it warm and sunny the next 2 days. Looks like the upper level low is digging that sucker further south than expected.


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

    Northern Japan was bracing for a 9’8″ tsunami, yet got very little if anything. Seems like the science of understanding underwater seismic activity and the subsequent generated tsunami waves is very poor, which turned out to be a good thing for today with no real damage reported away from Chili.

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      Um. Chile* 😆 jeez.

      The largest recorded earthquake in history occurred in the same general vicinity back in 1960 with a magnitude 9.5 quake.

    • EA_TTD says:

      And it generated the largest tsunami to ever hit Hawaii. Glad the media blew this up as they base their worse case scenarios off of a 9.5. An 8.8 would be enough to send me to the grocery store at 6 am!

    • boydo3 N Albany says:

      It’s only a matter of time. Beach front properties are transient at best, even without Tsunamis. Its the west coast.
      Salt. Storms. Earthquakes. Wind blown sand. The Pacific Coast will always be the raw edge of the N. American continent. Ever changing. Constantly being beat up, chewed up, and spit out by the forces of Nature. The history of this coast will always be a verbal one since no real solidity can endure for long.

  4. boydo3 N Albany says:

    Better to have a warning and nothing happen than have no warning be smashed to death.

  5. Cherie says:

    Cannot believe today is the day a family from here was flying to Hawaii. The gramma is my friend & I was soooo glad when I finally reached someone in the group. they were being held on the upper floors of the Maui airport & were safe. Whew…good news 🙂

  6. Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

    In this situation (unlike snow or wind), I doubt anyone would have complained about an incorrect tsunami warning called wrongly. People instead would probably be glad there was no tsunami and will happily continue their lives as we all do.

    Afterall, there was that possbility of a tsunami as powerful as they said and has happened before in recent years, with that being said, there wasn’t really a problem in pointing a warning or two out to the public, they will understand.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

      Besides, there almost always is some sort of tsunami that goes after a quake with an 8.8 reading on the scale, which is afterall one of the highest.

    • flurball says:

      More irony. Years ago we all watched what happened in Asia on TAPED video and lamented the fact that there were no sensors in that area to warn everyone. In this case all the sensors were there and everone had plenty of warning with enough time to set up camera locations and dispatch LIVE video yet nothing happened

    • Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

      Good point 😉

  7. muxpux says:

    been raining and gray all day here in longview. ugh.

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

    Nice spring-like day today. Oh and Hawaii definitely dodged a bullet with only a 2-3′ wave. Way to go media over blowing this and panicking residents. Did you see the video of people stocking up at Wal-mart? Ridiculous.

    • flurball says:

      Kinda like when PDX has one inch of snow? They aren’t alone 🙂

    • SalemPhil says:

      What would have you said if the warnings were not as strident and then they had a big wave? Is there really a way to win with that kind of an attitude? Just asking.

    • flurball says:

      No there isn’t Phil. They’ve had terrible damage with much less magnitude quakes in the past. They have the technology now to warn people so why not use it especially with what happened 5 years ago in Thailand? They did the right thing and the meadia just reported the result of it in my opinion. I watched a show on PBS several years ago saying how Hawaii was so reluctent to call for a tidal warning because if it didn’t happen the next one would cause people to ignore it. They certainly wouldn’t of done it here unless they thought it would happen. You have the weekend and the winter tourist season on top of the locals. It was a pefect mix for disaster. I’m afraid this “cry wolf” might be a issue down the road and you might see a New Orleans situation in the future with people ignoring the calls the next time. IMO

    • Salemphil says:

      Flurball, you do make a good point. There is the danger of “the boy who cried wolf” syndrome. I would rather see a warning put out and nothing bad happen, than the other way around though. With a warning, people can then make their own decisions and if the wrong decision is made and the worst happens, then at least they were warned. Like weather, tsunami forecasting isn’t an exact science.

    • flurball says:

      Amen Phil. We’re on the same page.

  9. cnr van wa says:

    I’m watching the live feed from KHNL in Honolulu.
    The live view of Coconut Island in Hilo Harbor is showing the best action.

    • cnr van wa says:

      It’s the link near the top…
      Live stream of Hawaii tsunami coverage
      For some reason my browser puts me in the middle of the page on that link.

  10. Jory (Sandy) says:

    Here is some interesting info…
    Sewage treatment plants in Hawaii have been shut down, and residents are being told to ‘flush sparingly’ :-)And if the pumps are shut off for to long, there will be sewage spills onto roads. Government workers are standing by to ‘disinfect the affected roads’. YUK!!! Along that same line, potable water is also being shut off.
    The reasoning behind this, is officials are attempting to avoid Tsunami damage to their pumps.

    The navy is moving some ships out of the harbor, to avoid damage.

  11. Jory (Sandy) says:

    Lets hope the Tsunami that hits Hawaii won’t be huge. Right now they are predicting 6-9 feet.
    The have opened up shelters for people who need them.

    Also, The ENTIRE North American West coast is under an Tsunami Advisory.

    This thing is HUGE. The ENTIRE Pacific Basin!

  12. Jory (Sandy) says:

    Allright, lost the other link I had but here it is…
    Here is a link to watch the Tsunami happenings in Hawaii…

    Here is another one…
    This one is a government website measuring water column heights near Hawaii. You SHOULD be able to see the Tsunami moving overhead of the sensors.

  13. Tyler in Hazel Dell says:

    Wow…probably the coolest thing caught on tape I’ve ever seen!

  14. Tyler in Hazel Dell says:

    Mostly sunny this morning, now some clouds moving in from the west and NW. Still warm however, temp is around 50.

  15. Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

    Yikes a tsunami advisory is in effect for the Washington/Oregon/California coasts.

  16. Hey Mark….a bit early for you today!!!!

  17. Carl in Cascade Park says:

    I have a tee time at 11:51 at Pumpkin Ridge today. Looks like there is no worry for rain for todays round! WOOHOO!! Nice day for golf. Fore!!

  18. Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

    Woke up to a nice sunrise this morning, only a few stray clouds in sight. Sure was warm last couple days.

  19. dabears (Hillsboro-Tanasbourne) says:

    For anyone interested, magnitude 8.8 earthquake just hit Chile. A tsunami has been generated.


  20. boydo3 N Albany says:

    I’m up past my bedtime. But, what if you were an alien and were looking at this?

  21. Lovely….My anemometer quit transmitting data…Oh well, at least we’re not having a windstorm…


  22. David Mall205 says:

    Had some big gusts blow through in the last hour.

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

    There is a small low moving north just along the central/northern Oregon Coast. It isn’t very strong, so I would not expect winds to increase much further.

    Good night.

  24. just had a little 25 mph gust blow through.

  25. dabears (Hillsboro-Tanasbourne) says:

    Awfully windy out there. Wasn’t really expecting to hear the chimney start roaring all the sudden like it does only with the biggest South wind events.

  26. AdamInAumsville says:

    Little blustery out there.

  27. Mr Data says:

    0.47 of rainFALLtotal and temp of 49.3F outside.

    Had a high of 52F a few hours go.

  28. Mr Data says:

    I am curious too as to this guys question:

    yevpolo1990 Says:

    February 26, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Reply
    Why is it falling rob?

  29. boydo3 N Albany says:

    Looks like we are heading for a US Canada gold medal game, eh?
    Can’t wait!

  30. HIO Phil (Punxsutawney) elevation 189' says:

    1.02″ rain in the last 24 hours. Not bad for a splitting system, and the most in a 24 hour period since New Years Eve.

  31. 50.7F….Light rain shower….0.58″ so far…Pressure continues to fall at 29.475″

  32. yevpolo1990 says:

    Why is it falling rob?

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

    That low is peaking now around 952mb.

    • Matthew says:

      I wish that was moving right into western Washington tonight. Damn that would be a fine windstorm.

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

    My barometer is falling like a very large, heavy pebble. Now down to 29.53

    • Mr Data says:

      Cool! THAt means mine is probably somewhere down to 29.30 as I am always lower then most people.

  35. k5mitch says:

    USGS says 7.0-magnitude quake struck near Okinawa Japan

  36. Chuck on Mt Scott says:

    Very warm, but some chunky rain falling up here in Mt Scott. Strange.

  37. Nice shot of rain entering the metro area now…

    48.7F….0.48″ today

  38. Josh "The Snowman" From Everett,WA says:

    Here’s a cool satellite from Komo:


    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      This shows how massive that system is, and also the splitting continues off our Coast.

    • I can’t remember seeing so many deep lows in the GOA, (or anywhere in the Pacific for that matter), in a long time…

      Too bad the “split flow regime” has taken them all away from us here…


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

    Good morning.

    A somewhat cool, dreary, and drippy day out there.

    I did find something of interest. A very impressive low pressure area just south of the Aleutians. According to the 12z NCEP/NOAA Pacific Surface Analysis it is currently around 964mb and projected to peak out at approximately 955mb.

    Here are two of the best images I can find of this beauty.

    This is absolutely a textbook classic looking storm. IF we ever see this type of monster inside 130 W and south of 40-41 N we’ll be in for it.

  40. Eternal Yamcha (SE Milwaukie) says:

    Iunno about anyone else, but I… For once… LOVE the rain. ;_;

  41. 50.9° with light rain….East winds…0.02″ rain

    Weather patterns continue as they have since the New Year….

  42. weathergirl - colton - 1000 ft says:


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