The winter of 2012-2013 for the Olympic National Park was an insanely good snow year. We were 211% above normal snowfall occurring from October to January. The mountains were white, skiers and snowboarders were happy and snowshoe trips were breathtaking. The snowpack lasted until July, helping with a drier than average summer which had a burn-ban for the entire state of Washington. The rivers stayed high and life was good. Sadly, the winter of 2013-2014 is looking to be just the opposite.
Some staggering snowpack facts:
- The Quinault region has 11 feet less snow than at this time last year.
- Mount Crag has 8.8 fewer feet of snow than last year.
- Currently, Hurricane Ridge has only 14 inches of snow, compared to 99 inches on this date in 2012.
Don’t believe us that this winter is dry? The first image is from December 23rd, 2012, while the second image is from December 23rd, 2013. There is an obvious difference.
SNOW LEVELS AROUND THE OLYMPIC PENINSULA
QUINAULT REGION (Buckinghorse)
- High since Oct 1: 10 inches total snowpack on Dec. 22nd
- Low since Oct 1: Zero total snowpack on Nov. 2nd
- Dec. 23rd 2012: 142 inches total snowpack
- Dec. 23rd 2013: 9 inches total snowpack
- Change: 133 inches/ 11 feet
HOOD CANAL REGION (Mount Crag)
- High since Oct 1: 5 inches total snowpack on Dec. 22nd
- Low since Oct 1: Zero total snowpack on Nov. 14th
- Dec. 23rd 2012: 109 inches total snowpack
- Dec. 23rd 2013: 3 inches total snowpack
- Change: 106 inches/8.8 feet
- High since Oct 1: 5inches total snowpack Dec. 7th
- Low since Oct 1: Zero inches total snowpack Dec. 5th
- Dec. 23rd 2012: 47 inches total snowpack
- Dec. 23rd 2013: 1 inch total snowpack
- Change: 46 inches/ 3.5 feet
HURRICANE RIDGE (Waterhole)
- High since Oct 1: 19 inch total snowpack on Dec. 17th
- Low since Oct 1: 0 inch total snowpack on Nov. 2nd
- Dec. 23rd 2012: 99 inches
- Dec. 23rd 2013: 14 inches
- Change: 85 inches/7 feet
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 do not need to panic. We may see an influx of precipitation and be complaining about too much rain and snow in the coming months. We only write this to bring awareness and to educate the public on the current snowpack. This could be a big deal and is something we all should watch. We need to accept the fact that by living in the Pacific Northwest, we need rain. We need lots of rain in the low lands and snow in the mountains to keep the region healthy. Here is to the wettest, snowiest January on record.
Snowpack Information: http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/Washington/washington.html