Western snow pack is well above normal, Squaw Valley sets new all time snow record

From the “weather is not climate” department: All of the western states have snowpacks that are currently 110 to over 180 percent above normal with the exception of southern Colorado. This is unusual for most of the western states to be so far ahead on snowpack all at the same time rather than from one or two states.

click to enlarge

That’s May 1st on the map, and there have been two significant storms since then, it is possible that some areas are now 200% of normal.

And, according to the Squaw Valley Snow Tracker:

Squaw Valley has just reached over 700″ of total snow accumulation– something that has never happened in Squaw Valley’s recorded history.

Squaw Valley opened in 1949.

And in the context shown above, here’s a pertinent reminder of alarmism past:

“…there is no greater truth than global warming, with its threat of a shrinking snowpack…”

That is from this article in the San Francisco Chronicle in October of 2006.

(10-27-2006) 04:00 PDT Norden, Nevada County — For the ski industry, both in California and rest of the nation, there is no greater truth than global warming, with its threat of a shrinking snowpack and the point that Yogi Berra once made so succinctly: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

If nothing is done to curb emissions, greenhouse gas emissions could raise Sierra temperatures another 5 or 6 degrees by the end of the 21st century, according to some projections. The snowpack could be reduced by 89 percent.

Sources:

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/
http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/support/water/westwide/snowpack/wy2011/snow1105.gif
http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/cgibin/ms.pl

h/t to reader “MM”

UPDATE: Reader Kelly Morris brings this snow water equivalent map to our attention:

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103 thoughts on “Western snow pack is well above normal, Squaw Valley sets new all time snow record

  1. Australia’s southern states have been experiencing early, very chilly weather and the colder months of winter are still ahead. Already heavy snowfalls have occurred in southern NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

  2. It has been a cold wet spring here in Oregon. But CAGW predicted that.

    In fact, the more CAGW, the more snow we get. If we keep dumping CO2 into the air, we will end up with another ice age! /sarc

    GPlant

  3. I have gone to Colorado (around Gunnison) every September for more than 20 years. The last 5 or so years there was no snow in the area I go to which was not normal. Last year at my cabin, at 10,000 feet, it never even got below 32 degrees F. This year I’m hoping everything is back to normal. Of course the agw folks blamed co2, but this is just weather.

  4. An expected catastrophe has been averted, yet again.

    Has Algore been buying up chalets in the West?

  5. On Monday, May 16, Baker City, Oregon, received 4 inches of snow. The elevation of Baker City is 3451 feet. I have a forestry project in the Grande Ronde Valley, just to the northwest of Baker City at 2800 feet that is a month behind schedule because of wet, cold conditions.

  6. “If nothing is done to (insert draconian combat tactic here) , (plant food) emissions could (insert disasterous effect here) by the end of the 21st century, according to some projections (while ignoring others). The (climate indicator in question) could be (insert gloomy outcome here).

    Is it my imagination, or is this paragraph extracted from a library of “dire prediction paragraphs”? It’s like a droning, albeit rather uninspiring, mantra. Couldn’t they at least dress it up in new clothes?

    89 percent? Is that empirical? It SOUNDS impressive, but hey, why not go all the way and declare the snowpack a desert, which is worse than we thought, of course.

    It borders on the moronic.

  7. You guys are so behind the curve if you don’t realise that AGW causes more snow, as well as less snow.

    Remember. Climate change will cause bad things, and climate change is happening. Therefore, if bad things happen, it is due to climate change.

  8. Uh, not just southern CO lacking….but us in northern NM are at a large deficit as well. Overall western US, not bad though.

  9. In 2005, the American Meteorological Society published a paper endorsed by the EPA, NOAA, and the IPCC. The study stated:

    “DECLINING MOUNTAIN SNOWPACK IN WESTERN NORTH AMERICA” was due to global warming.

    http://www.livingrivers.org/pdfs/LRlibrary/ClimateDocs/MoteHamletClarkLettenmaier.pdf

    “The West’s snow resources are already declining as the climate warms” claimed the paper, ” Relative losses depended on elevation in a manner “consistent with warming-driven trends”.

    Yearly snow depths at California’s Donner Summit 1879 – 2010
    (2011 not yet shown) – trend?

    http://www.eldoradocountyweather.com/donner.html

    Oregon snowpack: 130% above normal

    Washington snowpack – 190% above normal:
    http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20110412/NEWS/304129995/0/news/good-summer-news-olympic-snowpack-nearly-double-from-normal-best-in

  10. “The snowpack could be reduced by 89 percent.”

    They’ll have to change their predictions again. It’s not “Climate Change”. It’s “Prediction Change”.

  11. The cold weather has slowed the snow melt womewhat here in southwest Wyoming. The north slope of the Uinta Mountians, in places, has better than 200% of normal snow water equivalent for this time of year. The recent snows have reloaded the snow pack so the melt will continue for just than much longer. The Bear River is running fast and muddy.

    Don Bennett
    Evanston, WY

  12. Question: Is higher snowpack (east of the Continental Divide) responsible for the flooding Mississippi this year?

    /Mr Lynn

  13. The following link should be good for a laugh.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/snowfalls-are-now-just-a-thing-of-the-past-724017.html

    According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.

    “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.

    I guess he didn’t mention spring and summer snowfall, so he has some wiggle room there…

  14. Don Penim says:
    May 18, 2011 at 6:27 am

    ______

    The conclusions of the paper are a little overstated, but entertaining.

    “We are left, then, with the most important question: Are these trends in SWE an indication of future
    directions? The increases in temperature over the
    West are consistent with rising greenhouse gases, and
    will almost certainly continue (Cubasch et al. 2001).
    Estimates of future warming rates for the West are in
    the range of 2°–5°C over the next century, whereas
    projected changes in precipitation are inconsistent as
    t o s i g n a n d t h e a v e r a g e c h a n g e s a r e n e a r z e r o
    (Cubasch et al. 2001). It is therefore likely that the
    losses in snowpack observed to date will continue and
    even accelerate (Hamlet and Lettenmaier 1999a;
    Payne et al. 2004), with faster losses in milder climates
    like the Cascades and the slowest losses in the high
    peaks of the northern Rockies and southern Sierra.
    Indeed, the agreement in many details between observed changes in SWE and simulated future changes
    is striking and leads us to answer the question at the
    beginning of this paragraph in the affirmative. It is
    becoming ever clearer that these projected declines
    in SWE, which are already well underway, will have
    profound consequences for water use in a region already contending with the clash between rising demands and increasing allocations of water for endangered fish and wildlife.”

    I’m wondering if “Climate Scientists” understand the difference between Climate and Weather.

  15. Was it last October or November (2010) that “scientists” from UC Davis released a study indicating that less snow would fall in the Sierra Nevada; the Sierra snow pack would be greatly reduced due to global warming; spring runoff would be substantially below normal (and not meet the needs of the State); and the lingering drought would continue for many years.

    By December, snow fall was way above normal. Well above normal snow depth developed through out the season, reaching near-record amounts in most places. The State announced the drought was over and water allocations to farmers would increase. It snowed 5–6 inches at Tahoe earlier this week. Spring events had to be canceled or altered due to snow. Major Sierra ski resorts announced they will be open through the 4th of July.

    I believe that is called “the Gore Effect.”

  16. TrueNorthist says:

    “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.

    Global warming is like a boat, sunk so far that water is washing over the sides, over the decks and bubbles and now pushing through the water covering it all

    … and up in the wheel house the captain is still telling the passengers “everything is as predicted … we are still expecting to make port on time”.

    This is the politics of the madhouse. Surely historians will look back at this time and describe our society as mentally ill with paranoia over a minuscule and largely irrelevant rise in temperature.

    The one thing I’m not looking forward to is, trying to explain to our children why they should still respect “science” when so called “science” was the basis of this bizarre paranoia of modern society.

  17. “All of the western states have snowpacks that are currently 110 to over 180 percent above normal with the exception of southern Colorado. ”

    It’s worse than we thought!!

  18. The Amgen Tour Of California bike race had to cancel the first stage due to snow on Sunday at Lake Tahoe. It is a major bike race which many European riders come over for. It surely has made some people wonder about AGW.

  19. “Question: Is higher snowpack (east of the Continental Divide) responsible for the flooding Mississippi this year?”

    I flew over the Great Lakes region on my way back to Colorado from Boston on April first, and I was amazed at the vast snow cover below. Everything was totally white (like the Arctic) from Buffalo, NY on west to Milwaukee. If all that snow pack hasn’t contributed to the recent flooding in the Mississippi drainage, I don’t know what else would have.

    A friend of mine, who is an environmental journalist and a committed climate change acolyte said recently in an email to me that we can “expect more bad weather in the future.” I replied that history has shown that statement to be true, but if by “more bad weather” he meant “increasing frequency” of bad weather that the statement was by no means certain. You would think that journalists would at least attempt to use scientific precision in their language, even if they don’t really understand the science. That is part of the problem.

  20. Glad to see that my hat tip went through. :) Being a hydrologist this is a good thing but one of two will happen. Much of the western states will have plenty of water through the summer as reservoirs steadily fill up to capacity, or as the weather system changes enough to bring enough rain or above normal temperatures for an extended period to cause rapid snow melt off will they see massive region-wide flooding. And if you think the Mississippi was bad enough, wait til the states get their taste. So far, knock on wood, but a weak wood at that. Much of the western states have experienced below normal temperature helping to keep the deep snowpack from melting away. Summer is only 33 days away. I can only imagine the trouble we’ll see in the next 30 to 60 days from now. :/

  21. LKMiller says:
    May 18, 2011 at 6:14 am

    “On Monday, May 16, Baker City, Oregon, received 4 inches of snow. The elevation of Baker City is 3451 feet. I have a forestry project in the Grande Ronde Valley, just to the northwest of Baker City at 2800 feet that is a month behind schedule because of wet, cold conditions.”
    Agreed. got a Forester friend who is trying deal with a similar problem in the Mt. Emily area. Also, a Microwave Tech I know can’t even get to several towers in the Blue Mountains -even with a Snow cat….

  22. Don Penim: We need to archive all these papers, they are invaluable for future reference. Basically completely demolishes AGW arguments.

  23. Jay Curtis says:
    May 18, 2011 at 7:33 am

    It is interesting that your journalist friend should appear to attribute any “bad weather” immediately to global climate change. This is perhaps due to the message – “all bad weather is a result of climate change” – that our climate science friends have been cultivating over the past three decades (despite paying lip service to “weather is not climate”), and, of course, echoed by the left-wing environmental groups.

    That reminds me – the official start to hurricane season is only two week away. If we happen to have an active season, you can bet the climate alarmists will be out in force (just like they were for the recent tornado outbreak). That is why I will for the foreseeable future stay entirely away from the “WeatherUnderground” website – while their hurricane info is generally good, Jeff Masters’ climate alarmism is just too much for me…

  24. I’m goin’ to Lassen (sung to the tune of “Jackson,” by Johnny and June Carter Cash)

    We goin’ boardin’ at Lassen, go ahead a give a shout!

    We’ll be boardin’ at Lassen, til the ranger throws us out!

    We’re goin’ to Lassen, we’re going to surf that snow!

    We’re goin’ to Lassen, that’s allllll she wrote!

  25. So the conclusion is: Global Warming is going to cause less snowfall, except when it causes more snowfall. ;-))

  26. I’m wondering if there is any relationship between the increased snow pack and cooler weather in the US.

    Since this “snow pack is well above normal” that would suggest that a data set exists somewhere allowing such statements to be made, and that one could look to see if there is an anticorrelation between e.g. mean spring weather in the US and snowpack levels.

  27. The CAGW crowd seem to be very quiet about tis snowpack, am I correct? Now if next year lets says this snow pack drops below normal and temperatures above normal, can you imagine the din.

  28. I live at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, just west of Kings Canyon National Park, And Squaw Valley We have a panoramic view of the mountains from here that can take your breath away.

    For what it’s worth, I have never seen so much snow up there. I’ve heard it said that heavier snow fall in the higher elevations is a natural consequence of ‘global warming’.

    Ok, I can have that. We live on a water planet. The water isn’t going to go away. Increased convection, and precipitation, makes sense. But with a few more winters like this one, and we’ll start seeing snowpacks so deep that they don’t melt completely before the next year’s snows begin to fall.

    I wonder if the ‘warmists’ can tell us when to expect the tipping point where we’ve “warmed up” into another ice age.

    Meanwhile on a day that should already be in the triple digits, it’s still too chilly to let the kids go out without a sweater.

  29. Never mind I note the forecasts in the UK are “hottest day for 350 years ” pronouncements. Seem they have a short memory for the second coldest winter since records began in 1659 last year and a coldy the year before. Goebbels would be proud of those whoever made these recent “unprecendented hot” announcements.

  30. As noted, a real drastic change in precip around Pueblo, Sangre De Cristos are hurting.

  31. “Squaw Valley has just reached over 700″ of total snow accumulation”

    That’s a nice start on a glacier.

  32. For anyone who had ever been to Vancouver and looked up at the Ski Resort visible from downtown . . Grouse Mountain has just announced that they will stay open all June and close on the Canada Day long weekend – July 1st.

    Latest closing ever and they are closing because they think there will be too few skiers left despite the snow the think will still be there.

  33. Anthony, I’m not sure if you’re moving forward with the Climate FAIL files, but the 2006 statement above in the SF Chronicle sure seems like a candidate . . .

  34. After “adjustment”, I am sure it will be realized that the snow level was actually 70″ and that it was the second warmest year ever.

  35. “Layne Blanchard says:
    May 18, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Curious to see the results at Lakes Powell and Mead.”

    – Forcasts are that Powell will raise about 60′-70′ (15′-25′ from full). They would be able to fill except that the amount they are required to spill this year has been increased due to increased snowpack. Predictions are that Mead will raise by about 30′ (leaving it 90′ or so short of full, still much better than it was). Of course, these numbers have been trending up as the snows keeps falling.

    As far as records go, I am sure many resorts have hit the record besides Mt. Bachelor, OR. Mammoth Mt., CA, Loveland, CO, Snowbird, UT are a couple I am aware of.

  36. The average CO2 measured at Mauna Loa in 2005 was 379ppm, and in the first months of 2011 it’s been just over 390.

    The increase of CO2 by 11ppm has caused this increase in snow. Presuming, of course, a direct cause and effect. If CO2 increases more, and we get less snow next year, my theory will be proven correct, that increases in CO2 atmospheric concentrations result in more snow or less snow, independent of natural cycles such as the PDO.

  37. It’s raining and cold outside my Sacramento County classroom as I type this–highly unusual for mid may–Today’s graduation and I’ve never had to wear a sweater under my academic robes before. :)

  38. The latest historical snow fall in the Salt Lake valley (UT) is May 18. I live at about 5,000ft and we had snow yesterday around noon. Didn’t stick around long but it snowed. Snowbird ski resort reports 14″ new snow in the last 24 hours, updated at 8:20am. today.

  39. The plowing continues on “Going-to-the-Sun Road” in Glacier. Only 20.6 mile of 50 miles done. Photos available at Glacier Park web site.

    As a side note heard this morning on the news that more baseball games have been postponed for cold/rain so far this year than all of last year.

  40. Fred from Canuckistan says:
    May 18, 2011 at 8:48 am
    For anyone who had ever been to Vancouver and looked up at the Ski Resort visible from downtown . . Grouse Mountain has just announced that they will stay open all June and close on the Canada Day long weekend – July 1st.

    Latest closing ever and they are closing because they think there will be too few skiers left despite the snow the think will still be there.

    Didn’t Obama mumble something incoherent about CAGW, in relation to the 2010 Olympics, as being ‘the cause’ of sparse snow during the games?

  41. “… snowpacks that are currently 110 to over 180 percent above normal…”
    Doc, what is it with you weather types? There is no “normal”! It’s above (or below) AVERAGE. I know, it’s only a word. But this is exactly how the average person gets the misimpression that “something” is screwing up the weather and it’s probably us humans.

    BTW, our snow pack here this morning was – – average for this time of year but the temp was WAY below average @ 57 degrees – – just North of Tampa.

  42. Mr Lynn ,
    I would guess that the snow melt in the Rockies really hasn’t begun in earnest yet . When it does , though , it will have an impact downstream . The Missouri , Platte and Arkansas drainages appear to have enough snow pack to compouind the problems that the lower Missippi is experiencing , although it won’t be for several weeks .

  43. Here in Utah, I have had more snow days (including yesterday and today) this “spring” than 70 degree days.

  44. Famous IPCC statement:

    Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level.

    .

    Widespread melting of snowpack and sea ice is only partly supported by observational data. Arctic sea ice extent is the only indicator which seems to agree with the pro-AGW picture, nor Antarctic ice or Northern Hemisphere winter snow cover extent does. Most of the world’s glaciers have been retreating since the 18th century and no acceleration is visible in the recent past.

    Apart from this, we should already know that global warming climate disruption can lead to more snow by causing more intense and devastating blizzards…

  45. I just checked SNOWTEL this morning and the Olympic Mountains in Washington State are at 266% above normal. Washington’s Cascade Mountains range from 158% to 206% above normal and lastly, Crystal Mountain is planning to stay open for skiing well until the snow melts – currently 150 inches at the top and 99 inches at the base….should be open at least through July!
    http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/data/water/wcs/gis/maps/west_swepctnormal_update.pdf

  46. This could mean that the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valleys will get enough water this spring and summer that some of the farmers can resume producing food in spite of the Delta Smelt. That would be good news at the grocery store, even better if the fuel alcohol industry goes bust when the subsidies get yanked by austerity-minded politicians.

  47. Jim Cripwell and Layne Blanchard:

    I’ve followed the levels of these lakes/reservoirs ever since the IMAX movie about the drought in 2005. The hand-wringers were saying that Lake Powell would be dry in short order.

    Since then, Lake Powell has risen on the order of 65 feet. With this snowpack melting, I expect the level will be some 80-90 feet above the 2005 low. The problem in these predictions is that you never know how far they will open the gates to let water out. Follow it here: http://www.water-data.com

  48. P.S.
    “Question: Is higher snowpack (east of the Continental Divide) responsible for the flooding Mississippi this year?”

    While snow pack around the Great Lakes has apparently melted, as far as snow pack at the higher elevations in the MOUNTAINS east of the Continental Divide goes, not much of that has started to melt yet. I’m going skiing at Arapaho Basin on Sunday, and it seems to be holding steady at about 92-94 inches of base. Plus, the Colorado mountains are still getting quite a bit of snow up high. More due this week.

  49. OOPS! Talk about lack of precision. (red face here.)

    A-Basin is WEST of the Continental Divide, not EAST. However, it hugs the Continental Divide just like Loveland on the East side of Loveland Pass, and conditions are pretty much the same in both places. Unfortunately, I think Loveland has closed for the season.

  50. “After “adjustment”, I am sure it will be realized that the snow level was actually 70″ and that it was the second warmest year ever.

    Brilliant. Someone get out there with a snow-plow and “normalize” the drifts eastward!

  51. Drove over the Carson Pass highway today…chain control over the summit earlier. 6 – 9 inches on all the trees above 7000 feet. Nice and cold little mid May dump. 27F at Silver Lake. 28F at Caples Lake. 27F over the Carson Spur and 28F at the Carson Pass.

  52. Quick weather update from Ohio: Yesterday’s high temperature in Columbus (51 degrees F) broke a 96-year-old record for coldest high temperature. The day before, Columbus broke an 84-year-old record with a high of 49 degrees.

  53. max says:
    May 18, 2011 at 6:26 am

    I wonder if that amount of snow can even melt before September…

    Sure it can, but it hasn’t really started yet because May has been cold and snowy so far. Last week, some areas of the Denver Metro area had up to 6 inches of snow. The mountains got at least a foot from each of these storms and it’s been snowing in the mountains since yesterday with rain in the Denver area.

    Once the melting starts though, it will go fast. It will be dry by the end of July, as usual.

  54. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny that the Watt supporters here are going on about their weather as evidence of, well, something when he started this post with a “weather is not climate” reference.

    If you don’t get why that is sad then you are cheer leading not dealing with science….

  55. … snowpacks that are currently 110 to over 180 percent above normal…

    Do you mean : “… snowpacks that are currently 110 to over 180 percent of average…” (= “… snowpacks that are currently 10 to over 80 percent above average…”)
    Milwaukee Bob got halfway there.

  56. chris b says: “I’m wondering if “Climate Scientists” understand the difference between Climate and Weather.”

    Not anywhere near as well as they understand the difference between “funded” and “not funded.”

    tadchem says: “…That would be good news at the grocery store, even better if the fuel alcohol industry goes bust when the subsidies get yanked by austerity-minded politicians.”

    “Austerity-minded politicians” is an oxymoron, isn’t it?

  57. Is there some stock that we can buy, knowing that water will be plentiful in these areas out west?

  58. Of course. An abnormal winter snowiness disproves everything about AGW. How many more abnormal events will it take before it is obvious to all that nothing is changing?

  59. max says:
    May 18, 2011 at 6:26 am

    “I wonder if that amount of snow can even melt before September…”

    There were a few places in Colorado I used to hike (back in the ’70s, dating myself here) where the snow did not melt out for a couple years during the summer. These were deep, heavily forested ravines above 10,000 feet on north facing slopes. There were also permanent snow fields above 12,000 feet or so. You could dig into a snow drift and mark the layer from the previous year. While many of the permanent snow fields remained in the highest places, the lower ones had mostly disappeared by the ’90s.

    Those conditions back in the ’70s may well return. It’s what you call “climate change.”

  60. We have a winter storm warning up for the east slope of the Colorado front range from Boulder to the Wyoming line right now, along with a flash flood watch at lower atltiudes.

    http://forecast.weather.gov/wwamap/wwatxtget.php?cwa=bou&wwa=winter%20storm%20warning

    URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DENVER CO
    119 PM MDT WED MAY 18 2011

    …STRONG SPRING STORM MOVING ACROSS COLORADO THROUGH THURSDAY…

    .SNOW SHOWERS WILL BECOME WIDESPREAD AND HEAVIER THIS AFTERNOON AS A STRONG STORM SYSTEM MOVES INTO COLORADO. UPSLOPE EASTERLY FLOW WILL TARGET THE MOUNTAINS ALONG AND EAST OF THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE WITH THE HEAVIER SNOW AMOUNTS. HIGHEST SNOWFALL AMOUNTS WILL BE EXPECTED OVER THE MOUNTAINS OF LARIMER COUNTY…WHERE TOTAL SNOWFALL AMOUNTS MAY REACH ONE AND A HALF FEET BY THURSDAY NIGHT.

    THE HEAVIEST SNOW WILL BE TONIGHT. THE SNOW WILL DIMINISH IN THE
    FOOTHILLS ON THURSDAY MORNING…BUT WILL LINGER IN THE HIGHER
    MOUNTAINS THROUGH THE DAY THURSDAY WITH LIGHT SNOW POSSIBLY
    CONTINUING INTO FRIDAY.

    http://forecast.weather.gov/wwamap/wwatxtget.php?cwa=bou&wwa=flash%20flood%20watch

    It has been raining almost continuously at lower elevations today and the last few days. We briefly had a tornado warning for the north east area of the Denver Metro area today.

    Typical peak run off is the first week or two of June here when we first get our hot clear days to start the melt.

    This spring so far, reminds me a lot of the weather we had in the spring of 1965 which led up to the Platte River flood of 1965 which took out several major bridges spanning the river from Castle Rock north to Nebraska. It nearly cut the city of Denver in half and the water was 6-8 ft deep a half mile west of the river channel at Alameda Avenue. The top roadway of the I-25 / Alameda over pass was about 12 ft under water at peak flow.

    Chatfield dam was built to prevent that ever happening again, but the weather is very similar, with days of nearly continuous light soaking rains to saturate the soil. If we get a stationary thunderstorm in the north east front range of Colorado in the next couple weeks in any of the major river drainage basins we will likely have flooding.

    Right now the snow pack has not started significant melting, but either some clear hot days or a warm rain at altitude could make for a very wet time along some of our mountain valleys.

    Larry

  61. Sooo…..nobody’s going to mention how well-above-normal snowpacks are typical across the Western states (particularly north of Arizona and Mew Mexico) during the spring following La Nina years? And that this was a relatively strong La Nina?

  62. Uh oh, do you think that the CU Sea Level Research Group are considering a global snowpack adjustment or GSA to go along with their GIA ??

  63. Interesting that there is so little mention of the potential albedo effect from all this snow cooling things further.

  64. Shoulda seen the downpour leaving Denver at 4 this afternoon… oof. Hard to do 80 with standing water on the road.

    Breck set a record, too, by 15″ (519″ for the SEASON, still snowing.) I’m pissed, of course, because my wife won’t camp in the snow.

    Mark

  65. Thanks for the ray of sunshine, Larry. Monument Hill may be fun tomorrow morning.

    Mark

  66. I read an article last week that stated Lake Powell could be filled with this year’s snowmelt, but will come 20 to 30 feet short because recent agreements require that the Colorado River’s Upper Basin surplus water be shared with the Lower Basin. Estimates at that time (May 5) said that Lake Powell could be releasing water to Lake Mead through the Fall of this year.

    And still, it rains in Salt Lake City with snow in the mountains (shooting for 300% of normal snowpack.)

    On the subject of rapidly filling lakes, I include an excerpt from an email I wrote a couple of years back:
    ==============================
    Interestingly, the fossil remains of mammoths have been found under the
    meadows at the top of the Wasatch Plateau in Central Utah, which rises
    to almost 10,000 ft.. This would indicate that those meadows were
    accessible during the summers of the last ice age. Additionally, there
    is no evidence of glaciers in Utah on mountains under 10,000 ft, and no
    evidence of snow fields on mountains under 9,500 ft.. This leads me to
    believe that it would have not been much cooler and wetter than it is
    now. I do not know how much difference the Great Basin pleistocene
    lakes would have made, but they ought to have had a significant
    influence, once they were established. I include this excerpt from
    :

    “Surprisingly, the watershed feeding Lake Lahontan is not thought to
    have been significantly wetter during its highstand than it is
    currently. Rather, its desiccation is thought to be mostly due to
    increase in the evaporation rate as the climate warmed.[citation needed]
    Recent computer simulations (using the DSSAM Model[4] and other
    techniques) indicate that if precipitation and evaporation rates within
    the watershed were maintained at their historical yearly maximum and
    minimum, respectively and if diversions of the Truckee River ceased, the
    Ice Age extent of Lake Lahontan could return.”

    Again, I don’t think that the climate was necessarily significantly
    different then than now, it was just a marginal increase in
    precipitation and cloud cover, and probably a moderation of the seasons,
    i.e. short cold Winter, short hot Summer and a wet Spring and Fall. In
    other words, 4 seasons instead of the usual ~6 months of winter and ~4
    months of Summer with short transitional seasons in between.
    ==============================

    I trust Bangerter’s Folly is being prepped for use, or I should look for some property on the benches.

  67. Travis,

    A) yes, we are aware of history.
    B) sorry, but not so in Colorado. All predictions were/are for average snowfall based on history.
    C) we’re also not talking “well above average.” Record setting is what actually happened.

    Mark

  68. Mike Jonas says:
    May 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    “… snowpacks that are currently 110 to over 180 percent above normal…”

    Do you mean : “… snowpacks that are currently 110 to over 180 percent of average…” (= “… snowpacks that are currently 10 to over 80 percent above average…”)
    Milwaukee Bob got halfway there.

    Those snow survey numbers are relative to the “normal” snowpack for the date of the survey and for that particular drainage.

    That is usually measured in “water content” of the snow, not depth.

    In the Colorado front range they have both automated systems that report snowfall in real time, and periodic human surveys where they snow shoe in to pre-designated survey locations, take an aluminum tube and pull a core of snow from the snow pack and then weigh that core. That is then converted to “water equivalent” for the snow pack at that survey location.

    That number is then compared to historical records for that survey location and date to see how the water content compares to the “normal”. The sources I have seen do not specifically state if the “normal” is an arithmetic average of the snow water content for each date and location or some other statistical measure.

    http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/factpub/ah169/ah169p05.htm

    http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/
    http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/SNOTEL-brochure.pdf

    http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/factpub/wsf_primer.html

    Larry

  69. People should already understand when one says “above/below normal snowpack” it is to mean “above/below average snowpack.” I don’t think anybody would be confused as to mean anything else. Hardly moot to even go there.

  70. So…based on the comments so far, CAGW will cause the snow to be so deep in Oregon that this little redheaded elf will be up to her tiples in snow in the middle of July. I’ll be like that Subaru commercial. All you’ll see is the faint glow of my graying red hair just under the snow drift, motoring on.

  71. I see some potential issues with those graphics; they appear (unless I’m reading them wrong) to show no snowpack in Arizona’s high country. That’s just not true; I saw snow yesterday, quite a bit of it and old pack, on north-facing slopes above 7500 feet. In fact, it’s snowing right now at my house, at 7000 feet. I also had snowpack on my property from early December until about a month ago, the longest I’ve ever seen it last. We had some of the coldest days on record too (well below zero many times, unusual for here).

    I’m not complaining, not at all; this is usually fire season, so getting snow and rain at this time of year is great!

  72. Mark T,

    That only goes to reinforce something you already undoubtedly know: Colorado is extraordinary! So far as I can tell, Colorado is alone in the “record breaking” category. The rest of the West is as I said: “well above average.” Looks like you guys got the perfect storm.

  73. We got some of the purple snow too. From my kitchen window, at elev. 2500′, we look out at 8000′ peaks slathered in white taffy, with the latest storms fresh snow stuck to trees down to 5000′. You can even see it in the Sacramento Valley far south of Red Bluff, all that gleaming white snowcap. It is truly impressive, and it’s the 3rd week in May already.

  74. Weather is not climate! Unless it suits your argument, I guess, judging by the majority of posts above. Vail broke a record for snowfall this season (524″, ended 4/24), but last year had one of the lowest snowfall seasons, not even breaking 300″. The difference is La Nina vs. El Nino, as Travis pointed out.

    Warmer water evaporates faster, warmer atmosphere holds more water. These are facts. We are seeing more extreme weather events, and the percentage of North American precipitation that is falling in extreme one-day events is rising. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/indicators/pdfs/CI-summary.pdf
    These are predicted in the GLOBAL warming models. Some places will get wetter, some warmer, and some may even cool as weather patterns change. Just because the western-side of our continent is having a cold, snowy winter changes nothing on a global scale, it is exactly the type of climate change that should be expected. One record snowpack is a weather event, not climate, but it IS another anomaly in a long list of increasing weather extremes.

  75. tele-mon says: May 19, 2011 at 1:45 am

    Weather is not climate! Unless it suits your argument, I guess, judging by the majority of posts above. Vail broke a record for snowfall this season (524″, ended 4/24), but last year had one of the lowest snowfall seasons, not even breaking 300″. The difference is La Nina vs. El Nino, as Travis pointed out.

    Exactly, which has to do with the track the storms take, not the capacity of warm vs. cold air. Besides, La Nina is cold not warm, so your explanation isn’t relevant.

  76. Swings and roundabouts.

    Here in Europe we had an incredibly cold early winter, but actually spring came early to the UK and March was incredibly warm and April was pretty dry.

    We could do with a bit of your rainstorms over here as farmers are already saying that many crop yields will be down due to lack of early season rainfall.

    You lot seem to have a choice as to whether storms go from the Gulf of Mexico straight north or track up the East Coast. If they track up the east coast, we seem to get rain here in the UK. But if they go straight north, quite often we stay dry.

    It’s by no means an exact correlation, but I think people will realise in the next ten years that all the oscillations from mean are inter-related and what’s ‘bad’ for one geography will be ‘good’ for another.

    Compare Western Australia and NSW. Compare UK and Ukraine. North African rain and UK drought.

    There’s linkages………

  77. Tele-mon, your arguments are in opposition to one another and fight like Elk in rutting season. Try again. Record snow pack (be it extreme on either end, or this year, last year, or 10 years ago) is either part of anthropogenic global climate warming, or it is weather related to La Nina/El Nino. Start with a reasonable, supported premise and stick to it.

    If there is one thing that makes me cringe when reading comments, it is lack of debate skill. Now if you tried to be tongue in cheek, my criticism is full of holes, but you appeared to be serious.

  78. tele-mon says: May 19, 2011 at 1:45 am
    […]
    Warmer water evaporates faster, warmer atmosphere holds more water.

    Since it is plausible that a warmer atmosphere holds more water, what does this say about the atmosphere? http://i38.tinypic.com/30bedtg.jpg

    Since, “These are predicted in the GLOBAL warming models.” , reality correlation doesn’t happen much for the models does it.

  79. Almost every time I looked at the US precip radar for the last couple months, it seemed there was a blob of precip around Salt Lake City & the mountains just to the east. I figured they had to have a huge snowpack in Park City, Alta, Snowbird, etc. And they do.

  80. Moderate Republican – but don’t you see? Weather is climate, and now we’ve done too much! We’ve not only reversed all our previous Global Warming trends, but we’ve overshot and are now starting to race towards the bottom of the opposite side! Global Cooling! Can’t you see all the climate change? How many scientists do we need on WUWT to form a consensus that will ever satisfy you?

    I shudder to think about how frigidly cold the entire planet will go if we don’t do something now to stop the positive-feedback loop too little CO2 will cause! Polar bears running rampant across the Nebraska plains! Small children in classrooms, randomly exploding! A looming penguinpocalypse!

    Why, you’re nothing but some sort of foolish Global Cooling Denier, aren’t you?

    That.
    Now that’s cheerleading.
    What the posters are doing on this thread is entirely different.

  81. @TrueNorthist says:

    Viner was half right about one thing, when he said in the prognostication you reference that snow would cause chaos in 20 years time because “we will be unprepared for it”. Viner said that in 2000 and the chaos occurred in 2009.

  82. @Moderate Republican says:
    May 18, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    “If it wasn’t so sad, …”

    MR, I never met a moderate republican who would begin a sentence “if it wasn’t so sad”.
    That utterance indicates a sensibility from the other side of the aisle.

  83. Yes, freaky late snow and a very long winter around Lake Tahoe. Good news is- I skied 3 powder days this week and the lake level is already very high. It’s bad for the July 4th river rafters because there will already be enough flow down stream that the dam on Lake Tahoe won’t be allowed to open and make the Truckee River fun for tourists.

  84. @ Pamela, my point is that La Nina changes storm tracks, and almost always causes increased snowfall in northern Colorado and the Rockies, just as El Nino caused drier winters. What is being observed is an increase in extreme weather events, and records are falling with more frequency than what should be expected.

    @Steve, the facts that a warmer atmosphere can hold more water, and warmer water evaporates faster, are taught in high school physics. While La Nina does coorelate with colder ocean surface temperatures in the southern and eastern pacific, it also coorelates with warmer ocean temperatures in the northern and western pacific, where many of our storms begin. The models predict more extreme weather events, which is what we are seeing. Miskolczi does have an interesting theory though, which you’ve opened my eyes to!

  85. tele-mon says: May 19, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    @Steve, the facts that a warmer atmosphere can hold more water, and warmer water evaporates faster, are taught in high school physics.
    So what does decreased water in the atmosphere mean, as per my graph?

    While La Nina does coorelate with colder ocean surface temperatures in the southern and eastern pacific, it also coorelates with warmer ocean temperatures in the northern and western pacific, where many of our storms begin. The Pacific SST anomalies from Alaska to mid-Mexico are below average. Our storms track down western Canada and Alaska between the west side of the Rockies to just off the coast. None of our weather originates in the Western Pacific.
    Miskolczi does have an interesting theory though, which you’ve opened my eyes to! Never mentioned him, don’t know what you’re referring to.

  86. To Jay Curtis: Everything was totally white (like the Arctic) from Buffalo, NY on west to Milwaukee. If all that snow pack hasn’t contributed to the recent flooding in the Mississippi drainage, I don’t know what else would have.

    Actually, all that snowpack went into the Great Lakes and on over Niagara Falls and ulimately into the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Minor quibble.

    All this monstrous snowpack, however, will eventually be going into the Missouri River Basin, rapidly overwhelming their reservoirs, and ultimately surging into the Mississippi. This will not likely cause new high crests, but will cause the recession of the floodwaters to be painfully slow. In fact, historically high flood levels could plague the lower Mississippi well into the Atlantic hurricane season. And a tropical storm coming ashore anywhere in the Mississippi tributary system while historically high flood waters persist could be a catastrophe of literally biblical proportions.

    A Montana hydrologist a couple of weeks ago was predicting a “sensational” spring run-off. http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011105070302 And the snowpack has been growing since that prediction on May 6. When the weather, as it must, turns in the northern Rockies, many communities along the Yellowstone, the Missouri, and other rivers will probably be scampering for emergency shelters, just like those in Mississippi and Lousiana are as we speak.

  87. Oops. Forgot a link, so I’ve “revised and extended” my earlier post:

    To Jay Curtis: Everything was totally white (like the Arctic) from Buffalo, NY on west to Milwaukee. If all that snow pack hasn’t contributed to the recent flooding in the Mississippi drainage, I don’t know what else would have.

    Actually, all that snowpack went into the Great Lakes and on over Niagara Falls and ulimately into the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Minor quibble.

    This snowpack(http://www.mt.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/data/comparison.html), however, will eventually be going into the Missouri River Basin, rapidly overwhelming their reservoirs, and ultimately surging into the Mississippi. This will not likely cause new high crests, but will cause the recession of the floodwaters to be painfully slow. In fact, historically high flood levels could plague the lower Mississippi well into the Atlantic hurricane season. And a tropical storm coming ashore anywhere in the Mississippi tributary system while historically high flood waters persist could be a catastrophe of literally biblical proportions.

    A Montana hydrologist a couple of weeks ago was predicting a “sensational” spring run-off. http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011105070302 And the snowpack has been growing since that prediction on May 6. When the weather, as it must, turns in the northern Rockies, many communities along the Yellowstone, the Missouri, and other rivers will probably be scampering for emergency shelters, just like those in Mississippi and Lousiana are as we speak.

    A Montana hydrologist a couple of weeks ago was predicting a “sensational” spring run-off. http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011105070302 And the snowpack has been growing since that prediction on May 6. When the weather, as it must, turns in the northern Rockies, many communities along the Yellowstone, the Missouri, and other rivers will probably be scampering for emergency shelters, just like those in Mississippi and Lousiana are as we speak.

    This will not likely increase the ultimate flood depth, but it will very likely painfully prolong the recession of the floods — well into huricane season. I’m betting the Corps of Engineers general and the Mississippi River Commission have an industrial size bottle of Tums on their desks.

  88. I was in Wyoming a couple of years ago. Driving north out of Jackson on 191 you suddenly see the Tetton Range in all its snowy sparkly glory. The greatest view on a wonderful holiday.

    Driving through Yellowstone we were amazed to see the roadside snow poles 20 ft. high, as well as snow banks in excess of 20 ft high. Browsing marks 60 ft up the trunks of lodgepole pines.

    Yep, you do get some snow in the NW. Looks like you will have to get used to more.

    Happy skiing.

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