December 13, 2020

Snowpack has slid a bit, but substantial Northwest snowfall is ahead

 Our snowpack percentage of normal has declined quite a bit the last week or so, but don't be too concerned.   Bountiful snow is coming.

Here is the latest percentage of normal snowpack from the wonderful SNOTEL website. Slightly below normal in Washington and generally near normal overall in Oregon.  Below normal in Idaho.

Remember a few weeks ago when we are 400% of normal? couldn't last.  Climatological snowpack is increasing and we had a dry period for a while.

If you compare our snowpack to a year ago, we are actually doing much better than 2019 (2019 is left, 2020 is on the right).  Hugely more this  year (you are looking at SWE, Snow Water Equivalent, the depth of liquid water that resulst from melting the snowpack at a location).

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the long-range models are going for cool/wet conditions for the remainder of the winter, something consistent with the energetic La Nina we have in place.

Here is the UW WRF model accumulated snowpack for the next week....several feet of snowfall expected through 4 PM next Sunday.   This will guarantee good skiing over the holiday season in the fresh air of the outdoors.  Just keep away from apres-skiing libations and gatherings,  and avoid crowding in lift lines (although the threat of transmission in outside air is quite low).

The biggest worry is California.  Their snowpack is less than last year and models are not offering significant snow for central and southern CA during the next few weeks.  La Nina years are generally poor snow years for the Golden State.


  1. As this crazy year comes to a conclusion, I wonder if you'd remark on the fact that global CO2 emissions have fallen 7%, yet atmospheric CO2 failed to even show a blip of a response and had continued its steady upward trend.


    1. I'm not an atmospheric scientist, but I'd guess there is a very long reaction time involved. The atmosphere is so immense it could take multiple years before a change is detected.

    2. We have to reduce Co2 emissions by over 50% to stop atmospheric Co2 from increasing.

    3. I'd expect to see at least a faint immediate reaction in the Keeling Curve, unless the buffer is so strong as to not register global anthropogenic CO2 input. And if the buffer is that strong, then how could the Keeling Curve be a result of CO2 input over the last century. Likewise, if Math Teacher is correct and a 50% reduction would flatten the Keeling Curve, then we should at see some response at 7%.

    4. "We have to reduce Co2 emissions by over 50% to stop atmospheric Co2 from increasing."

      Really? Pray tell us how to get to this holy grail of enviro alarmism, and give actual, concrete solutions - not the unicorns of fraudulent solar power taxpayer swindles and ridiculous wind farms blighting the landscape. Also - any answer not including nuclear power marks you as deeply unserious.

    5. The Keeling Curve represents all the CO2 in the atmosphere, not the yearly input. The only change you would see is a roughly 7% decrease between the peak and valley difference of the 2019 season.
      If your x axis is limited to the last couple decades you might see it, but if you are looking at a century or more then one year dropping 7% is like taking a thimble of water out of a filling bathtub.

    6. Exactly, James. But the Keeling Curve is used to demonstrate how anthropogenic CO2 is raising the atmospheric CO2 level each year, so we should at least see this year's reduction of 7%. If you visit the research I linked to, you'll see that atmospheric CO2 may very well be as a result of the warming rather than the other way around. Shouldn't we see a 7% reduction in the uptick from 2019, which is not showing.

    7. Dave Z asks,
      “Shouldn't we see a 7% reduction in the uptick from 2019, which is not showing.”

      Annual increase in CO2 concentration (ppm, Mauna Loa):

      2015: 2.95
      2016: 3.01
      2017: 1.90
      2018: 2.86
      2019: 2.46

      What value were you expecting for 2020 had there not been a 7% reduction in emissions?

  2. CO2 is a highly persistent gas. It takes a longer time for it to decline than other GHGs.

  3. Snowpack? Precipitation has been extremely ample this new water year, since October 1, in the headwaters and "as harbingers go" snowpack is only one piece of the puzzle, and not the leading indicator. If there were low precipitation AND less than historic snowpack, there might be cause for concern. But this is not the case so far this year. Here, near Mt. Baker, avg daily precipitation stands at .25947" as of this moment, Dec 15 therefore water tables are high. These SNOTEL SWE maps can mislead where it comes to wet-water supply.

  4. Interesting prediction as the snow levels are high all week between 4-6500ft so all but the highest of peaks will be rain only. Hopefully La Nina will kick in soon and bring those levels down.


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