March 23, 2016

More Snow Coming to the Cascades

If you were thinking that now that spring is here, you should put your skis away--don't do it.   The mountain snowpack is still healthy and more is coming on Thursday.

Regarding our current snowpack, here is the current snow depth at Stampede Pass, at 4000 ft in the central Cascades.  Holding in there at around 85 inches, while the snow water equivalent in the snowpack has been rising.  Why?  Because we have had some warmer periods with rain and melt, with the water running into the snowpack and refreezing.  That is how Cascade concrete is made!

But go higher in the Cascades, say at Paradise Ranger Station (5500 ft) and the story is different...the snow depth has continued to rise.  Why?  Because there was less rain and more snow at that elevation.

And now the fun part.  Here is the 72hr snowfall total from this morning's run of the UW WRF model.  Up to several feet in the Washington Cascades!   Southern BC (including Whistler) will get hit hard. Most of the snow will be on Thursday.

We have a very healthy snowpack and the water situation looks very good for this summer.  Here is the latest percent of normal:  most areas are 100% of normal or more.


  1. Hello Cliff!

    Love the blog! Remember, Cascade Concrete isn't "made" it accumulates as such.

    I agree with the first commenter from a previous article:

    Keep up the good work! Also, take a look at this if you find time:


  2. Though we did not get snow here in the Willamette Valley, I am grateful that we have a good snowpack in the mountains for this summer. Last summer's lack of snow was terrifying...especially when the weather guys said this winter would likely be as bad or as worse as last winter. Thanks for all the work you do to explain things. :D

  3. I just skied through the Enchantments end-to-end, 3 days, Thursday to Saturday. Plenty of snow, powder above 5000 in sheltered spots, wind-slab in open areas, and cement-like below 4000 feet.

  4. Yep Cliff, you seem to be a bit confused by the term "Cascade Concrete. Cascade concrete, or Sierra cement, is the snow that comes down when it's just about freezing. Heavy, wet, like wet cement. Difficult to ski, especially after a first pass. We get that a lot in the Cascades and the Sierra's...thus the name. Don't believe it.

    The phenomenon you are describing...snow that melts and then freezes solid is common to just about everywhere there's snow, especially in the spring, euphemistically called "hard pack" by the ski industry.

  5. Cliff - In the study you published in 2008: "A New Look at Snowpack Trends in the Cascade Mountains" you noted "Cascade spring snowpack declined 23% during 1930-2007." Has there been any follow up to that?

    Is a general historical graph available where we can visibly see the trend in our Cascades? Better yet, historical by region as defined on the map, hopefully updated after we get past April 1?

    ps: Precip would be great to see too!


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