April 15, 2015

Northwest Snow Gods Are Kind and Cruel

Reputed to live high in the Olympic Mountains, our regional snow gods are playing games with us.

After a winter with marginal snow, the gods unleashed 1-2 feet above 4,000 feet in our mountains, as illustrated by the snow accumulations at Stevens Pass and Mt.Baker (see below)

With this additional snow, Stevens and Mt. Baker reopened for a few days.  You really have to respect the unflagging determination of the folks that operate the Mt. Baker and Stevens ski areas....they have been relentless in trying to give local skiers a chance on the slopes.


 Today, the NW Avalanche Center produced the latest summary of the current state of the snowpack at local ski areas (see below).  The situation is a bit better than a month ago, with Hurricane Ridge at 14% of normal and Stevens at 33%.    The higher Paradise and Timberline sites are around 50% of normal.  Not great, but at least there is something up there again.

Why did we get some snow?   Because for practically the first time in the winter we have had some colder than normal air over us, associated with westerly winds pushing off of the Pacific (see upper level map for last Saturday when a lot of the snow fell).. But that is about to change as we switch to a

much warmer pattern, as a high-amplitude ridge builds up this weekend (see below).  Yes, the persistent West Coast ridge is back...and it should be around for a while.

The National Weather Service and Weather Channel forecasts for Seattle  (see below) shows temperatures rising into the 70s on Sunday through Tuesday.  Great for outdoor activities, but bad for snow...I suspect that will close out the ski season this winter.

With a persistent ridge in the West and trough in the east, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center is going for a familiar 6-10 day temperature forecast, with warm air in the west and colder temperatures in the east.  So if you want to go skiing here in the Northwest...better get up there tomorrow.


  1. I'm SE of Chehalis and up about 600'. Had light frost the last two mornings. Burned off, pretty quick. Lew

  2. Utah just got hammered two days straight. But only 10 days or so left in their season also.


  3. Snoq nordic never opened. A first.
    Stevens nordic had minimal coverage and did their best.
    Leavenworth? nothing.
    Methow Valley was actually ok, but suffered many warm days and a short season.
    Summer and fall 2015 supposed to be hot and dry...maybe even into next winter. When will it end?

  4. I hiked up Rock Mtn. yesterday. Should have brought my backcountry skis! Contrary to what I was led to believe, there IS snow in the high country. I was expecting to see meadows with flowers coming up. Instead there was 2-3 feet of snow everywhere about 5500'.


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