Monday, November 18, 2019

State of the Snow

We're now in mid November, so the time is ripe for taking a look at the snowpack across the western U.S.

In terms of the percentage of median snow-water equivalent as of November 17, a pronounced dipole pattern exists across the western U.S. with most stations near or above median near and east of the Continental Divide and most stations further west below median.  The pattern is a strong one with many stations east of the divide well above median and many west of the divide well below median. 
Source: NRCS
Percent of median can be a somewhat misleading indicator of snowpack robustness since much depends on the station's snowpack climatology.  Many of the stations east of the Continental Divide are relatively dry, and thus 200% of median this time of year doesn't necessarily mean a lot of snow.  If we look at the actual snowpack water equivalent, there are no sites that have crested the coveted 10" mark.  The highest values I could find were in the Lewis Range of Montana [Badger Pass (8.9") and Noisy Basin (8.1")], Gallatin Range of Montana [Shower Falls (8.5")], Teton Range of Wyoming [Grand Targee (7.6")], and Bighorn Range of Wyoming [Bald Mountain (7.6")].
Source: NRCS
Colorado has a few stations at or well above median, but median at many of these stations is low.  The top site there is the Tower Snotel just north of Steamboat (6.5").  Sites elsewhere look to be below 4".  For comparison, the Snowbird SNOTEL sits at 3.4". 

Based on forecasts from the NAEFS, the southern portion of the western CONUS looks to have the best chances for snow over the next week, much of this snow falling with the trough moving across the west through the middle of the work week.  There's a little action to the north as well. 

The Wasatch aren't entirely dry, but don't get much.  Even a few inches would help at this stage.  There are, of course a couple of outlier Canadian ensemble members, including one that puts out about 80 inches of snow in 12 hours!

As I like to say, you've got to love the Canadian, even if it is physically implausible.  We'll have to look into that one and see what the hell is going on. 

On the plus side, the Utah football team is kicking butt and taking names.  

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