We are one month in to 2014, and the news for the mountain snow in the Olympic National Park is not good. While we were sitting at a horrid 24% of normal a week ago, recent snow has pushed us all the way to 34%. Last year we received over 200% of normal snowfall, so this year is incredibly hard to fathom.
Snow is forecasted for this weekend, but with only a few inches expected to fall, the snow woes of the Olympic National Park look to continue throughout this month. Unless something drastic happens, we will have one of the driest winters on record. Following a year of little rainfall, the Olympic National Park may technically be in a drought for 2014.
As always, all data is up to date as of publishing (2/3/2014) and can change. For up to the hour updates, please refer to the following website: http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/Washington/washington.html
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK SNOWPACK DETAILS
The Ridge has 30 inches of snow and is 40% of normal snow levels.
The Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard area is currently closed and will continue to be closed until there is a nicely packed 36 inches at the ski area.
Up above the Quinault River, there are currently 30 inches of snow sitting on the peaks at 4,870 feet. This is currently a whopping 40% of normal levels for this date.
The current snowpack at 4,000 feet above the Hood Canal Region is 8 inches.
Yes. Just 8 inches…giving us 53% of the normal snowpack number. While the normal snowpack seems extremely low, this is the dry region of the Olympic National Park.
Up on mount Crag, also located near the Hood Canal, there are 11 inches of snow sitting on the summit. This is just 21% of normal snowfall.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT?
Hurricane Ridge Ski Area also hasn’t yet opened, thanks to receiving only 1/3 of the needed snow to open. As of December 23rd, only 12 inches of snow is at Hurricane Ridge, 24 inches less than the needed amount to open the skiing area. We here at Exotic Hikes were hoping to get more people out and about this winter with snowshoe tours, but with ankle deep snow along the best trails, we have had to scrap them until later.
With less snow, our rivers and stream may not have enough water to keep the region healthy this summer. If the summer of 2014 is anything like the summer of 2013, we will see an increase in forest fires, which are usually rare in the Olympic National Park. The salmon run could be negatively impacted if the rivers remain low and other animals and plant life will suffer.
THE GOOD NEWS?
We here at Exotic Hikes don’t see any of this as good news. We would like more snow in the mountains of the Olympic National Park for so many reasons. Aside from wanting to book snowshoe tours and keep our business afloat, we also want the rivers, streams and aquifers of the region to be healthy. The Olympic National Park needs rain and snow badly, but the incoming moisture won’t get us anywhere near what we need.