Sunday, March 29, 2015

City Creek Melt Out About a Month Ahead of Schedule

It's been a beautiful weekend, providing some gorgeous views of City Creek Canyon.  The snowpack, however, is quite minimal with nary a patch of snow to be found except on the upper elevations of Grandview Peak.

There are actually three SNOTEL stations in or near City Creek Canyon allowing us to get some idea about how this year compares to others.  The lowest is the Louis Meadow SNOTEL (6700 feet).  There must be a few patches of snow remaining in the lower canyon that can't be seen in the photo above as it is still registering a couple of inches of snow water equivalent (blue line).  This is about the equivalent of the median snowpack (red line) in late April.  

The Hardscrabble SNOTEL is at 7250 feet behind Grandview Peak in this photo.  It too is running perhaps a month (or a bit more) ahead of median.   

Finally, the Lookout Peak SNOTEL (8200 feet) hasn't yet begun to experience significant snowpack loss yet, but the equivalent median is in mid May.  

SNOTEL stations tend to be located in sheltered areas that retain their snowcover better than the south aspects viewed in the photo above.  Nevertheless, one gets some idea of the unusual nature of this spring...not that any of you who live in northern Utah are surprised!

One thing that really got my attention today was emergence and and breaking of buds on the scrub oak.   

It's my anecdotal impression that the scrub oak are rarely in a hurry to bud.  I wonder what the typical time of bud break is for this native species.  Anyone out there know?

Enjoy the nice weather the next couple of days.  Colder weather looks to be on the way midweek.

1 comment:

  1. A USFS website reports a relationship between the date of snowmelt and timing of spring growth:

    "Gambel oak produces buds in winter for the following spring. Not all buds produced in winter become active; some dormancy is maintained. Dormant buds may become active if new shoots are defoliated [59]. In southwestern Colorado, at least 5 weeks are required after snowmelt before onset of spring growth. Photoperiod requirements prevent bud burst occurring earlier than the 3rd week of May. Shoot elongation is generally 24 to 27 days and is not dependent upon date of bud burst."


    Sweeney, John R.; Sweeney, James M.; Steinhoff, Harold W. 1979. Effects of snow on browse production by Gambel oak. In: Swanson, Gustav A., technical coordinator. The mitigation symposium: a national workshop on mitigating losses of fish and wildlife habitats; 1979 July 16-20; Fort Collins, CO. General Technical Report RM-65. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 637-638. [3775]