January in the Northwest usually brings a rapidly increasing snow pack in the mountains, as illustrated by the typical annual variation at Mount Baker (see below).
But this year, with warm temperatures/rain alternating with dry, high pressure conditions, our snow pack has been on a substantial decline.
Let me demonstrate this to you. Below are the NOAA snow depth analyses for December 29, 2014 and today (January 29, 2015). A huge difference, with FAR more snow a month ago. The Oregon Cascades have almost nothing on them today and the Olympic Mountain snow pack is hugely down.
The only place where the snowpack is comparable to last year is the northeast Cascades and northeastern Washington.
To really drive home the changes over the past month, let's compare MODIS satellite imagery for December 29th and today. Over the Olympics, the differences are night and day (see below), with the low-level snow pack virtually gone in today's (the second) image.
Or take a look at the snow distribution over the central Cascades east of Seattle. (There are some clouds as well...they are less structured than the snow fields, which have a dendritic look--with no snow in the valleys). A month ago, there was lots of snow in the Cascades that extended to relatively low elevations. In contrast, today, the snow had pulled way back into higher terrain.
You really want to be impressed with the changes? Here are the before and after satellite photos around Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams. The low-level snow pack is virtually gone today, while there was plenty in late December.
Or how about the difference between the Mt. Rainier (Paradise) web cams on December 26th and today? Can you tell the difference?
There will be some light snow in the north Cascades during the next 72 hours, but not enough to make a huge difference. Here are the predicted snow amounts. Virtually nothing in the Oregon Cascades, southern WA Cascades, and the Olympics,but the north Cascades and northeastern Washington get 1/2 ft or so. Southeast BC gets a snow freshening. A pattern we have seen too many times before.
And according the the Climate Prediction Center the temperatures will remain warm over the western U.S. (see map). Enough to make a skier cry. Thankfully, we have the Seahawks.