People of Northwest Public Radio
Wed February 19, 2014
Washington Snowpack Rebuilding Toward Normal
On a clear day in Seattle, Nick Bond can size up the mountain snowpack on his bike ride to work. But as Washington state’s climatologist, he crunches the data for a more precise picture.
That’s because a lot of people care about snowpack.
“It’s not just skiers, it’s important to the economy of the state," says Bond.
Bond says to think of snowpack like a water bank for the dry summer months. Farmers in Eastern Washington rely on melting snowpack to irrigate crops. That snow is also needed for hydropower and freshwater streams down the line.
January’s dry weather raised worries about summer water supply. But February is putting those fears to rest.
“It’s just been coming down gangbusters in the mountains so now we’re near normal, a little bit less than normal in the northern and eastern parts of the state. And something like 75 percent of normal in the southern Cascades," says Bond.
At Snoqualmie Pass, about three feet of snow have fallen since Friday. And it just keeps coming down.
Still, Bond describes this as the first dry winter after several years of abundance.
He predicts this winter’s total snowpack may end up a bit below normal. And that could cause slight water shortages this summer in a few isolated areas.
Copyright 2014 KUOW.