Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snowpack Winners and Losers

From a snowpack perspective, there are some winners and losers in the Wasatch thusfar this year.  The snowpack in the Cottonwoods and along the Park City ridge line is pretty healthy (in terms of depth, but not avalanche danger), but in the northern Wasatch it is dismal.

First, let's have a look at two SNOTELs in the Cottonwoods, Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon and Mill-D North in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Both sit at or above their average snowpack snow water equivalent for the date and well above where we were last year.

In addition, the Thaynes Canyon SNOTEL, which is on the upper mountain at Park City, is just above average snowpack snow water equivalent.

Thus, at upper elevations, the snowpack in the Cottonwoods and along the Park City Ridgeline is fairly healthy.  Unfortunately, there are no low-elevation SNOTELs in the Cottonwoods or near Park City, but I think it is safe to say that the low elevation snowpack is not healthy and running below average.  It's really unfortunate we don't have a low-elevation SNOTEL in the Cottonwoods as such observations will be really helpful for interpreting snowpack changes in our warming climate.

The snowpack in the northern Wasatch, however, is more dismal.  In the mountains near Ogden, much of the snow that fell in that early season storm in late October melted and they have simply missed out on storm after storm.  The Ben Lomond Peak SNOTEL (8000 ft) and the Ben Lomond Trail SNOTEL (6000 ft) are both well below average.

Ben Lomond Trail is even below last year, which is a direct consequence of the warmth of the storms we've had.  They have simply produced rain at that elevation rather than snow.  

So, things are in good shape in and around the Cottonwoods, but the northern Wasatch continues to struggle.  What a difference a short drive can make.

1 comment:

  1. The Utah Avalanche Center has dramatic pictures of a close call avalanche on the Park City Ridge line just out of bounds from Canyons Resort: