Feb 21, 2015
Many in the hiking communities of the Pacific Northwest have given up on winter arriving, and for good reason. Snowpacks around the west are dwindling, and reports from Yosemite, Mount Rainier, Crater Lake, and Olympic National Parks are seeing snowpacks around 30% of normal or less.
Many locals are claiming they have never seen a winter as snow-free as this one. This winter is bad. Yosemite National Park is reporting just 21% of normal snowpack in the mountains, following a winter of receiving just 30% in the winter of 2013-14. At Yosemite, melting snow helps churn the often dry Horsetail Falls into a shimmering beauty, shown below. This winter, the annual event of a sunlit waterfall will not occur, thanks to no snow available to melt.
THIS WON’T HAPPEN IN YOSEMITE IN 2015
Further north, Crater Lake National Park has seen just 37% of a normal snowpack, with bare spots around the rim plainly visible to the naked eye. The region around the park, normally bustling with snowshoers and cross country skiers, is hoping that summer will just hurry up and arrive so they local business can make up for lost winter revenue.
In the Pacific Northwestern National Parks, the situation is not much better. Looking at the webcam at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, the ground is completely bare of snow at one mile above sea level, something that usually doesn’t occur until June. The road to Obstruction Point is mostly snowfree, and the Ski and Snowboard park at Hurricane Ridge has not been able to open for a single day. In the Cascades, Mount Rainier National Park is hovering around 35% of annual snowpack, but a few park service employees are holding out hope for winter.
The winter of 2005 at Mount Rainier National Park was eerily similar to the winter of 2014-15. As shown in the graph above, the 2005 winter looked to most to be a wasted winter, seeing little snow around the region. Through the first half of March, no snow fell and all hope was lost, at least until around March 16th. During the second half of March, 2005, over 90 inches of snow feel at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park, helping to end the winter snowpack at a slightly below average winter level, instead of the devastating emptiness that the first half of the month was giving us.
Will the winter of 2005 repeat itself? Only time will tell. However, it is still too early to give up all hope for winter. I for one am pleased to see that we still have a chance to get a healthy snowpack before what looks to be a warm and dry summer.
Is 2014-15 the worst snow record for you? Share your “Search for Snow” stories below!