Mt. Hood Skibowl says they are now planning to open up much of their summer adventure park by Oregon’s Spring Break, just two weeks away. Probably a good choice since we don’t see any sort of snowy weather pattern ahead (note previous post) and their slopes look like this:
This ski season is about to enter into uncharted territory; conditions are developing that we have not seen at least since I was born (1969). Am I being a bit dramatic? I don’t think so…let me explain.
First, the current situation:
80-90% of the typical snowpack we see on the ground this time of the year doesn’t exist in the Cascades!
There is no snow on the ground below the 5,000′ elevation and Willamette Pass has announced they are finished for the season on their website.
In NUMEROUS past seasons we have seen a terrible start to the ski season turn into either average or great conditions. Remember last year was terrible until the first week of February and then great powder conditions for several weeks. In ALMOST ALL OTHER SEASONS we have seen the turnaround to cool/wet by the 1st of March.
In our area, the (publicly available) snow depth observations for Mt. Hood only go back to the early 1970s at Timberline Lodge so I can only see back to that point. Right now there is 49″ of snow on the ground at that 6,000′ location.
There are only three REALLY BAD years, where snow depth was still under 50″ on March 1st. Older ski bums remember these years. 2004-2005, 1980-1981, 1976-77. Thanks the Ski Mountaineering site for the chart.
In 1976-77 the pattern changed in early March and the snow accumulated quickly. So we know this year will be worse than ’76-77 with no recovery in at least the first half of March. We also know that the entire 2nd half of March 2004-05 saw a ton of snow with the best skiing of winter over Spring Break. So most likely we’ll be worse off than that year. In 1980-81 the 2nd half of the month saw the depth go from around 35″ to 60″. That still looks unlikely, but possible.
To wrap it up, in less than two weeks we’ll likely be experiencing the worst or 2nd worst snow season in the Cascades in the past 45+ years!
By the way, this evening’s fresh new GFS model has either warm and dry, or warm and wet in the mountains for the next 16 days.
Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen