The Western Snowpack is 137% of normal

Skiing on Southern California's Mt. Baldy, May 3rd 2010 - Image: The Ski Channel

From The Declining Spring Snowcover Department

Experts tell us that spring snowcover has seen rapid declines in the Northern Hemisphere over the last 20 years. As of today, western US snowpack averaged by state  is 137 percent of normal.

According to USDA Snotel measurements, Arizona is 446% of normal. California is 131% of normal. New Mexico is 184% of normal. Nevada is 126% of normal. Montana is 104% of normal.

Lake Powell water levels have risen four feet in the last month and are 56 feet higher than they were on this date in 2005.

Salt Lake City just had its latest spring snow on record. Mammoth is expecting a big Memorial Day snow storm.

The Obama administration (42% approval) forecasts heat and drought for the western US. Let’s see how they are doing!

Apparently Arnie’s efforts to stop global warming have been successful.

Schwarzenegger has emerged as a national leader on global warming, the one whose name most frequently comes up in foreign capitals when international cooperation on reducing carbon emissions is discussed. Al Gore might have a Nobel Prize, but Schwarzenegger heads a state that, if it were a country, would rank among the 10 biggest economies in the world. Given the Bush administration’s unwillingness to seriously address the problem, Schwarzenegger’s initiatives to mandate hard emissions targets and set up carbon-trading schemes with other states and Canadian provinces make him this country’s most forward-thinking governor, and its greenest Republican.


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Nik Marshall-Blank

And in a a few years time after the climate has swung into its cold phase and temperatures decline the headlines will read.
“All of our efforts to curb emissions and reduce the effects of Manmade Global Warming are now coming into fruition. You guys ought to deify us as we just saved your sorry ass.”
Believe me, these people have no shame.

Richard Henry Lee

The polar bears are singing “California here I come!”.

Dave N

Curbing emissions would imply a reduction in the rate of increase of CO2. I’m willing to bet it will be hardly affected. Of course, alarmists will likely turn around and declare cooling to be bad, and somehow caused by CO2.

Al Gored

Yes. Fine. But how much of it is old snow?
More seriously, this is great news. Looks like those above normal snowpacks are where the meltwaters will be needed.

el gordo

It’s the first time in more than 50 years that Sacramento has experienced such a cold spell this late in the season. As long as the AO index remains negative there will be no NH warming.


This surely accounts for The Warmest April in history.

Ross M

Averaging state percentages doesn’t seems like a good way to Western snow cover – they are all different sizes. The first link doesn’t do it this way, so the comparison is invalid.


I think I have understood why IPCC likes a global temperature.
If you average NH and SH, you get rid of much of the cyclic pattern……and it becomes more difficult to see whats really going on.

Still unusually good snow at Cairngorm mountain in Scotland after record winter snow fall
So obviously the warmest start to the year Globally has missed out Scotland. And the rest of the UK. And Western Europe. And the USA. And Much of China And….
Wait a minute then, just where has it been so warm elsewhere that a record is being claimed? The Southern Hemisphere must surely have melted to compensate for the lack of warmth in much of the Northern Hemisphere.
Couldn’t have anything to do with the tiny number of stations in Canada artificially skewing the temperature in the World’s second largest country could it?

Northern Exposure

Sounds like everything is right on target as per AGW computer model predictions : More snowfall… lots and lots of snowfall… so much snowfall that it will have to be measured in feet, not inches… and it will be unprecidented.
They sure showed us, didn’t they ?
And when all that precipitation translates into unprecidented amounts of heavy rainfall in the summer months, they’ll tell us that the models predicted that too.
And then when everyone drops dead from drought and lack of drinking water, they’ll tell us the models predicted that too…
And if at anytime during these high precipitations, (side by side with droughts), should there arise a cooling period somewhere in mix for any period of time, the models will have seen that coming as well.
But the cooling period will only be temporary because the models say so. And after 10, 20, 30 years of cooling and global temps dropping by how much they’ve increased thus far, we’ll suddenly jump right smack dab into catastrophic global warming and unprecidented snowfalls, rainfalls, droughts, etc.
On the other hand…
If we don’t see this predicted cooling period for whatever reason, the models were then also correct in their catastrophic runaway venus-like warming too.
So you see, 30-year temporary cooling can run side by side with runaway heating… and heavy precipitation can run side by side with drought.
Hope that clears up any confusion some of you may have !


And on the news tonight (I live in California) the story is that May precipitation is below normal so expect reduced water deliveries. Go figure. This has been one of the coldest months of May I can remember since moving here. Daytime highs have been some 20 degrees below average many days. Tomorrow’s high is currently forecast to be 58F and 63F the day after. It is nearly June and I live in San Jose. It should be in the 80’s by now.
That increased snow pack in California might be more due to colder temperatures than increased precipitation. Tioga Pass through Yosemite is still closed. Highway 108 (Sonora Pass) is still closed a little South of Yosemite. Most years the pass opens in May but there is one opening recorded as late as July 1. That might have been due to road repairs, though, and not snowpack. 1998 was one heck of a winter, though. We got some 15 inches of rain in one series of storms around New Years Day that flooded parts of Cupertino and San Jose that winter.
Reply: The closure till July 1st was due to snowpack. I drove through Tioga pass on that July 1st. It was a good thing to, otherwise I would have had to drive the long way through Reno instead to visit my family on vacation in the Eastern Sierra. The scenery as magnificent that day.~ ctm

The Obama administration (42% approval) forecasts heat and drought for the western US.
That pretty much guarantees more snow in the offing…

Mike Fox

Doesn’t matter. It’s all rotten snow!


Yep, and Actic sea ice is back to average, right? Honestly, how hard is it to grasp the concept of “trend”? How can you think an anomaly negates a twenty-year trend?
Also, citing a study showing declining snow cover in the Northern hemisphere and disproving it by touting the western part of the United States is ludicrous. This is like saying, “Are you sure there’s only a one in six chance of rolling a six? Well, well, well, look at this – I’ve just rolled a die three times, and got two sixes. Now, I don’t know about all that fancypants statistics stuff, but I’m pretty confident that two in three is more like 67 per cent, not 17. Those statistician clowns really have no shame, shouldn’t they learn basic arithmetic first?”

Big Al Bore And The Phoney Consensus

But of course you all know now (because I’m telling you) that more snow means Global Warming (because the warming causes more evaporation, more precipitation and hence more snow). And if the ice caps grow any more this year then that’s ‘case closed’ as far as I’m concerned. Just what will it take to convince you Denialismists? Do we have to be buried under 20 feet of ice before you’ll believe in Global Warming?[/sarc]


Ross M says:
May 25, 2010 at 11:25 pm
Averaging state percentages doesn’t seems like a good way to Western snow cover – they are all different sizes. The first link doesn’t do it this way, so the comparison is invalid.
You’ve seen Anthony’s figures now let us see yours.


Thats odd
Rutgers shows neither a positive or negative departure of snow cover in the continental US??!! Lots of negative departure everywhere else though…


Don’t know why Cal’ doesn’t join the EU.
Afterall Arnie is Austrian by birth.

Rhys Jaggar

That data looks like saying that there is a large anomaly in the SW (Arizona, NM and the gambling state), a reasonable one in California but slightly below elsewhere.
As one assumes that the SW snowpack is the smallest at this time of year, I’d ask what the actual anomaly is in terms of cubic metres of snowpack across the Rockies?
Suspect not a lot or, if anything, slightly down.
Interested to hear answers to that one…..

Darren Parker

California Uber Alles!

Ed Zuiderwijk

They were still skiing in the Scottish Highlands last week, the latest in the year in recorded history.
The rise in Lake Powel is good new for Vegas. Is there any info about the Utah salt planes, which periodically become lakes again? Time to prepare the sandbags in Salt lake City?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Al Gore might have a Nobel Prize, but Schwarzenegger heads a state that, if it were a country, would rank among the 10 biggest economies in the world.

I must be getting old. I remember when California was sixth largest, hands down, no debate. Now Kalifornia is merely ‘among the top ten,’ and I strongly suspect that’s a slight fudging of the old info rather than a reporting based on the current figures.
Wasn’t it nice of Kalifornia to show the rest of the United States what happens when you follow those European social and environmental policies, even take the lead sometimes?

RR Kampen

“Experts tell us that spring snowcover has seen rapid declines in the Northern Hemisphere over the last 20 years. As of today, western US snowpack averaged by state is 137 percent of normal.”
How large a fraction of the Northern Hemisphere comprises the western US?
Why suggest this fraction is 100%?
May 2010 in Holland was very cool. What does it suggest about hemispheric or global temperature? Nothing at all, of course. This cool May is just weather. So is snowcover this spring in that part of the US. Northern hemisphere snowcover has dropped far below normal, no?
Of course, everyone on this forum knows all this. So what is the motive for all this silliness? Could it be you are all trying to be first laughed at, then totally forgotten in order to give Al Gore en Kyoto uncriticisable freeway?

As for why the snow cover maps needed adjusting, it has to do with how they were made in the first place, Robinson said.
The maps are based on satellite images that are divided into grids. Squares in the grids are either judged as snow-covered or not, depending on how much they are filled with white. Just how much they must be filled to qualify as snow-covered varies in different places. So to just take the resulting maps from all corners of the continent, as is, and use them to study climate can lead to problems.
“If they are misused they can result in faulty research,” Robinson told Discovery News. “What we’ve done is not changed it but tightened it up a little to develop better confidence limits. This has hardly needed cleaning up in some areas.” But in others, like some mountainous places, the data needed to be looked at again, he said.

Looks like we could be seeing ‘homogenised’ and ‘adjusted’ figures. For our own benefit, of course, to make sure there is no ‘faulty research’. I recomend the best way to avoid ‘faulty research’ is to never let anyone see the raw data, and only show the ‘adjusted’ data. In extreme circumstances, you can delete the original data and claim it has been lost.


Ross M says:
May 25, 2010 at 11:25 pm
“Averaging state percentages doesn’t seems like a good way to Western snow cover – they are all different sizes. The first link doesn’t do it this way, so the comparison is invalid.”

Unless of course snow cover went the other way. ;o)

Dave Springer

According to data here:
Lake Powell is still a long way from full. It’s 77 feet below conservation pool level, 58% full, and inflows so far this year are 25% below average. Snowpack above it is 23% below average. Storage has fallen by 1.4 million acre feet so far in 2010. Lake Powell is not in good shape and the outlook isn’t either. Of course that has nothing at all to do with climate change and everything to do with rising demand for the water due to population growth.
I live on the shore of a large man-made reservoir that’s an important source of water and electricity for a million people, agriculture, industry, and health of the downstream ecosystem. If we’re only at 58% capacity near the end of May that’s a big problem. We just came out of the worst drought since the 1950’s. Reservoir is at 97% capacity now (thank you El Nino) versus 55% last year at this time. Upstream slightly smaller reservoir is still down at some 78% full. Combined is 89% so we’re okay for the coming year but with La Nina making an appearance we’ll probably need a hurricane in the late summer to blow some good rain bands inland 150 miles from the Gulf to set us up for next year.

Staffan Lindström

…What a coincidence that Storlien, Jämtland nowadays Sweden, 583 m ASL {above
myself…LOL…} , snowcover was first measured this season Sept 29…and still counting,
since rather low temperatures are expected the coming days, we may have a record of
10 consecutive months…If not, it’s still a new longevity record, old record being 227
days (CONSECUTIVE!…) SO today we have … 2+31+30+31+31+28+31+30+26=240
DAYS…All of them due to…have’nt a clue…??

From the article:
Schwarzenegger has emerged as a national leader on global warming…
Gov. Arnold explains global warming.


I’ll have to wait till friday to get the eaxct numbers, but from memory on Monday when we ran our data the New Zealand South Island snow pack was also around 135% of average for this time of year, and its not even winter yet.


Pretty interesting that AGW is only tied to temperatures with little regard for precipitation anomalies.


Arnold Governators’ hot seat in California has been Terminated.
He should go back to making movies that need no explanation.


>>Wait a minute then, just where has it been so warm elsewhere
>>that a record is being claimed?
Have you not noticed? It is always warmest in the most inaccessible parts of the globe, where nobody can verify their data. Places like the Yamal peninsula, and those warm spots that plagued northern Siberia and northern Canada.

Rhys Jaggar
Why would you assume that snowpack is smallest this time of year? My bike ride last Sunday along the Poudre River was diverted several times by floodwaters from melting snow covering the trail.
Lots of snow at Taos

R. de Haan

Yesterday the Dutch Weather report showed a picture of a potato field today and last year at the same date.
Last year the field was green with the potato plants 15 cm high.
Yesterday “there was nothing to see”.
The weatherman told his public this was due to a lack of rain.
The truth is it was because of the cold.
Now after a few warm days temperatures are dropping again.
Eastern Europe, Poland and Germany and France are coping with floods, severe damaging thunderstorms with big hail, even tornado’s.
The point is there is a lot of disinformation on any level.


Heatwave in Toronto. It feels as if this part of the world is disconnected from larger global trends this year. Sigh… 🙁


As an observation…does it not seem like mountainous areas have all been effected with increased precipitation and cooler than normal temperatures?
With the oceans being cooler, these would be effected first.


R. de Haan says:
May 26, 2010 at 4:16 am
Food supply shortages and increased pricing will be what climate cooling will create. This in turn would lead to more starvation and death to a great many of the poorest.

Stephen Skinner

“Schwarzenegger has emerged as a national leader on global warming”
He should be in line for an Oscar nomination then!


Off topic but not sure where else to ask. Anthony, how do I find the articles I’ve missed in chronological order? There used to be a button to click at the bottom of the homepage that sent you to prvious articles. I’ve been away from the PC for a while and want to see what I’ve missed

Tom in Florida

In my area of Florida, we have no snow pack, no mountains, not even hills (the highest points are I-75 overpasses) so I cannot comment on these things.
However, at the bottom of the reference material is this:
” Reference period for average conditions is 1971-2000.”
I will protest the use of the word “average” when dealing with a short, arbitrary base period.

California increased from 131% to 142% overnight, while Rasmussen lost their last ten days of polling data. I wonder if their web site was hacked?


TODAY “The Western Snowpack is 137% of normal” — aka Weather (to some) aka Global Warming (to some).
TOMORROW “The Western Snowpack is -137% of normal” — aka Weather (to some) aka Global Warming (to some).
We’re not on the same page. We’re not using the same definitions. One side is using the rules of reason. The other side is making their own rules as they go along for their own reason. This is not about science or truth. This is about science VS a political agenda with the aim of a new world order. This is about apples and oranges.
This is Yankee VS Red Coat. This is Blue VS Grey. This is West VS East. This is A VS B.

Paul Hildebrandt

It was warm in Puerto Vallarta last week and there is no snow in the coastal ranges of Mexico. But then, that is to be expected.

John Egan

Anthony – As Ronald Reagan would say, “There you go again.”
For someone who regularly uses numbers you sure do cherry pick when it comes to approval of the Obama administration. Everyone who uses political numbers – Dem and GOP alike – knows that Rasmussen is highly partisan and often an outlier.
RealClearPolitics gives Obama an average approval of 47.0 to a disapproval of 46.6. gives Obama an average approval of 48.9 to a disapproval of 47.2.
These are averages of multiple polls – some rather partisan like Rasmussen – others nonpartisan.
Furthermore, I fail to see how the reference to the “Obama administration” is especially germane since the agency to which you link was established under the Bush Sr. administration. Was there any particular announcement on climate from the Obama administration lately about summer temperatures and drought?
Undue politicization of the website will likely only make it an echo chamber. (I realize that it is YOUR website and you are free to do anything you choose.) If your goal is to present multiple views with an emphasis on those which seek to refute some of the research and policy assumptions of climate change advocates, then a less partisan approach would serve you more effectively.

Arn Riewe

Al Gored says:
May 25, 2010 at 11:15 pm
“Yes. Fine. But how much of it is old snow?”
And more importantly, how much is “rotten” snow?


Instead of snow extent what counts now is global governance cover extent, you are now under a 90% cover; 100% planned to be reached next autumn, after Cancun.

Don’t forget our reservoirs are now 96.18% full and we haven’t had the snow melt yet. Not to mention it’s snowing in the Sierras. Lake Shasta is no 113% of normal and 99% full. Lake Oroville (the one they claim they use for water the most) is now 80% of normal and 69% full and no snow melt yet. But they keep telling us we have a drought in California. The greentards in Sacreamento just don’t want to give it up.

RR Kampen

R. de Haan, “The weatherman told his public this was due to a lack of rain.”
That surprised me too. Correct, it was because of the cold. We did some analysis within the met community here and also ruled out the possibility they were different potatoes.
It is the cold. May 2010 is in the 5-10 percentile coldest and after the fairly warm weekend today is very cold indeed again.
Today’s max may hardly exceed 12° C.

Frank K.

RR Kampen says:
May 26, 2010 at 2:40 am
“This cool May is just weather.”
Which is to say, any atmospheric event (whether hot or cold) is “just weather”…
Please tell this to the our friends in the Global Warming Industry, Inc. (and their mainstream media comrades) when there is a heat wave somewhere this summer… Of course, heat waves are their equivalent to Public Television pledge drives – opportunities to distort science in order to collect their billions in climate ca$h…