We’ve had three mild days with sunbreaks at times, and that’s melting the snow nicely west of the Cascades. After peaking out around 14″ at home, I’m down to just a few inches now (quite a bit denser!). But during this time a big snowstorm has been ongoing in the Cascades.
At this moment Mt. Hood Meadows has a 132″ base, Timberline 154, and 70″ (six feet!) is on the ground down at Government Camp.
I just checked out the numbers at the Mt. Hood Test Site (SNOTEL) at 5,400′. This is a long term snow measurement site in operation for over 40 years now. It’s close to the bottom of Pucci Lift in the Timberline Ski Area. What a surprise! Snow depth is 138″. If you could snap your fingers, immediately melting all that snow, it would be the equivalent of 47.7″ rain. That is referred to as “Snow Water Equivalent” or SWE. This is how our summer water supply is measured. Snow “stored” in the Cascades (and other Oregon mountains) gradually melts March through June, delivering water into reservoirs and recharging groundwater. We have a long dry season so snowpack is very important.
What surprised me is how well the snowpack is doing; at that elevation on Mt. Hood, AND down around 4,000′ (two separate sites), it’s THE BEST SNOWPACK ON FEBRUARY 17TH SINCE 2008!
To get a more complete picture, scientists at USDA average many stations across the region and state. For the Mt. Hood area, we’ve gone from 66% of average early in the month to 99% today…big improvement in just a couple weeks! All of Oregon looks like this…
We are in good shape, best across the northern part of the state. It appears we’ll be staying on the “cool-ish” side of things for the next 7-10 days. The chart below shows 850mb temps from each of the 51 ECMWF ensemble members for the next week. That’s temperature around 5,000′ elevation for the next two weeks. The green line is the average for this time of year. Red line is average of all 51 members. What sticks out? Much of the time the next two weeks, the overhead atmosphere is below that green line = cooler than normal. Good for Cascade snow, bad if you want some (very early) spring weather in the lowlands. That said, we need a temperature below -7 this time of year for a wet morning snowfall. That can still happen into mid-March, although rare. There are a few members implying that could happens in the next two weeks…we’ll see. Regardless, I’m turning my outdoor chicken water back on; no sign of a cold freeze.
Speaking of lowland weather, plenty of rain ahead, although I don’t see any sort of flooding setup. There are hints that MAYBE later next week it might turn slightly drier. You can see more gaps in the Euro ensemble 24hr QPF chart beyond the 24th.
On another subject, we picked up some new numbers from PGE today. They now say that at one point 350,000 customers were out of power. That makes this the most disruptive power event since the Columbus Day Storm (in pure numbers). That’s about 40% of their customers! In terms of percentage of customers, the December 1995 windstorm put 46% of customers out, so these two events are comparable in that way I suppose. Just a devastating ice storm for utilities and life-altering for many of you this week.
On the snow front, it turns out I had a bad number for 1955 (see previous posts). So the 10.1″ that fell in Portland (officially) through this event gives us the 2nd snowiest February on record
That’s it for tonight, I’ll be off for a few days and back Sunday…Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen