January 21, 2012

The Other Snow Story

During the past several days, this blog was been fixated on lowland snow and ice.  Later I would like to talk more about the ice storm, which has been one of the major meteorological disasters of the past decade, with roughly 300,000 customer losing power, massive loss of trees, extensive road closures, and loss of life.

But another important weather story has been the huge increase in snowpack during the past week over the Cascades.  Below is the NOAA snowdepth graphics comparing January 13th to today.  Big increases.  Enough to make ski operators and outdoor enthusiasts smile.
A week ago, the Oregon snowpack (snow water equivalent, the amount of water when melted in the snowpack) was only around 35% and the Washington snowpack had dropped to below normal (70-90%).   Below is the situation yesterday (click on image to enlarge).  85-100% for Washington and now 50% in southern Oregon to around 80% in the north.  Big improvement.

In contrast, there is a real serious snow drought in California, with stations in the Sierra's at 10-15%.  6-12 inches new around Tahoe today....they need it.  Utah and Colorado are also well below normal.  Folks in those states like to smirk and criticize our snow.   Not this year.

The Cascade passes have received a lot of snow (3-4 feet) during the past week, roughly doubling their snow depth.  Here are the Snoqualmie totals:  43 to 80 inches!

And here are the snow depth graphs for Ollalie Meadows (near Snoqualmie) and Stevens Pass.  Major jumps in snow the past week.

Ollalie Meadows
According to the latest model runs, the increase in show should continue, but at a lesser rate.  Here are the snowfall predictions for the 24h periods ending Sunday and Monday at 4 AM.  6-18 inches of snow.  And good news for CA:  more snow for the Sierra's. And yes, those smug folks in Utah will get quite a bit.

One final thing.

With all this snow the avalanche danger in the Cascades is quite high. First we had an extended period of relatively cool conditions and little snow.  That resulted in the formation of a surface crust.   Then starting about a week ago we had a lot of snow under cool conditions.  That produces low-density, fluffy snow.  Perfect for skiing...Cascade powder! (Utah snow boosters take note!).

Over the past few days temperatures aloft warmed and there was lots of wetter, denser snow. So we have dense snow, over light snow, over a crust that acts as a ball-bearing for the upper layers to slide off of.  That implies serious avalanche danger, and my colleagues at the Northwest Avalanche Center and the National Weather Service have warnings out.  Back country skiing might not be a great idea today, and I would not be surprised if there is some avalanche work for some state highways.

Lost Dog Report

We have a few sightings the last week up in Mountlake Terrace...and we rushed up there immediately, but no luck.  We then staged some food and attractive scents (chicken broth) and put a infrared controlled digital camera there to snap pictures of what came.  Lots of business:  local cats and a white/gray dog.  An animal psychic told us that she connected our dog with a white van and a guy in his 40s.  

A major problem with us is that some individuals (or others) are tearing down our signs (ALL OF WHICH ARE ON PRIVATE PROPERTY).  Some kind people allowed us to put a sign on their property (48th Ave next to the Mormon Church).   Now it is gone.  Maddening.


  1. Congratulations on 1 million views for the month.

    Some models are going against what you said yesterday and building a huge ridge after midweek. I actually wouldn't mind a month of action to cancel out what didn't happen in Nov. and Dec. But I understand people needing a reprieve.

  2. The mm5 has been showing a classic upslope hood canal snowstorm for sunday evening cliff. Alot of people live around this area, the latest mm5 is showing up to 16 inches of snow in the olympic foothill communities And even 6-8 inches just west of bremerton and sw over belfair and matlock.

  3. Hi Cliff! Can you please comment on the possibility of seeing the aurora borealis tonight? If, per chance, I live in Seattle and I REALLY want to see it, where would you suggest I go to do so, and at what time should I go there?!

    Thank you! Any info you could give would be appreciated!!!

  4. Did you find your beloved dog? Let us know. Keeping an eye out.

  5. Cliff, this is a great blog. Thanks for writing it. Look forward to your post that goes into detail this upcoming week's worth of interestingness.

  6. We hope you can be reunited soon with your beloved dog. Our heart goes out to you and your family. All the best to you.

  7. Hey Cliff,

    Have you contacted The Missing Pet Partnership? They have bloodhounds that can track your lost dog among a lot of other resources.


    Good luck!!!

  8. You teased us Friday by saying the following ~~~~ "Now I hate to bring this up.... but the forecast models for the next week indicate some intense weather in store for us. Heavy rains, strong windstorms, and the arrival of frigid arctic air. Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel may have to come back for another visit." ~~~~~~~~~~ Care to touch on that topic at all? Please?

  9. As the owner of two dogs (one at a time) I hope you find your dog. I really do. I love dogs. But I'm not sure I'd spend a lot of time with the animal psychic, especially if you're having to pay this person.

  10. ILoveWinter, it has been pretty windy and rainy lately hasn't it? Tuesday-Thursday is suposed to be pretty rainy and windy as well. Today the foothills have a Wind Advisory and the coast is under a High Wind Warning and around Seattle it's supposed to be windy. I'd say it's been pretty stormy lately. The arctic mass is no more, the models were trending colder when Cliff said that but have backed off (of course) on the cold.

  11. On south shore of Hood Canal (Union) at 600 feet and it has been snowing steadily for 3 hours without about 2" of new snow now sticking on the ground. Kind of a surprise, but just read snowmizer's comments with some trepidation. Nobody seems to be talking about this..just when we thought we were done!

  12. You mention that "the Cascade passes have received a lot of snow (3-4 feet) during the past week." In fact, the "New snow" column for lowly (in terms of elevation) Snoqualmie Pass shows that since last Sunday (1/15) they've received 87 inches of new snow. And that's at road level (I-90); there's been considerably more than that on the upper reaches of Alpental, for example. See http://i90.atmos.washington.edu/roadview/i90/ and click the "Snow depth" link.

  13. "An animal psychic told us that she connected our dog with a white van and a guy in his 40s."

    Check the quasi overnight parking spots down by the river.

  14. Hi Cliff,

    I've been following your lost dog saga with interest, since my cat has been missing since December 8. I also contacted Jim and Chris from Missing Pet Partnership, and rented a critter cam and trap. I set it up behind an abandoned house where there had been some promising sightings, and after almost two weeks of watching 5 or 6 cats, a couple of opossums and a raccoon take the food each night, I finally saw a longhaired cat that was not mine after all. Very disappointing.

    Regarding the posters, if you have been following the MPP guide, http://www.missingpetpartnership.org/recovery-posters.php, as I have, it is possible that certain curmudgeons simply object to the gaudy nature of the sign. I have put up nearly 70 signs over the last 6 weeks and only a few have stayed up more than a couple of days.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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