Monday, September 30, 2013

Gov't Shutdown Threatens Skiing!

Major storms have been rumbling through the Pacific Northwest over the weekend and snow is beginning to pile up in the high country.  With snow levels near 4000-4500 feet, it is currently 32ºF with heavy snow at Paradise Ranger Station on Mt. Rainier (~5500 ft), one of more accessible higher elevation locations that you can access by car in the Washington Cascades.  As a result, Paradise is frequently a very good choice for early season turns.  
Paradise Ranger Station parking lot, Mt. Rainier National Park.  Source: NPS
Although they only have several inches of snow on the ground at present, satellite imagery shows a classic pattern for heavy snowfall today with a continuous fetch of unstable cold air extending from the Gulf of Alaska into the Washington Cascades.  

Thus, the forecast calls for more snow, potentially enough given the density of Cascade snow for turns tomorrow.

Source: NCEP
Conditions will be marginal, but it could be enough for diehard northwestern skiers to take a look.  Then again, perhaps they should consider other options.  While the road to Paradise frequently closes during inclement weather, closure tomorrow looks to be a virtual lock thanks to the pending government shutdown.  Curses to this Congress!
The fall back for northwesterners is Chinook Pass (or perhaps the Mt. Baker area), also a very snowy high elevation location (which is closed to traffic during the winter).  My son and I toured there in July 2011.  

In contrast to that lovely day, a hard shell and a hearty appetite for gloppy snow with minimal cover will be required this week.  Nevertheless, we're talking turns in September or very early October.  

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