climate change

From Wenatchee, Washington, to Bend, Oregon, whitewater rafting guides are preparing for a flood of business as school lets out. But this year’s low snowpack could mean less whitewater and more demand for trips.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee Friday significantly expanded a drought declaration due to dwindling snowpack.

louelke / Flickr

It was a warm winter in the Northwest this year. It certainly rained, and it was plenty gray, but there wasn’t much snow. And that means low snowpack. The Washington Department of Ecology says Washington snowpack is at 21 percent of normal levels.

Panda Poles / Flickr

The Northwest’s record-low snowfall has delivered a frustrating ski season this winter. And when summertime comes, the thin snowpack could make for low stream levels and tinder-dry forests.

But people who manage the Northwest’s biggest dams say they’re not worried.

"We’re doing just fine at the moment," Mike Hanson said.

Hanson is a spokesman for Bonneville Power Administration. It operates 31 federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and provides about one-third of the electricity for the Northwest.

Portland Brewery Puts Low-Carbon Beer On Tap

Jan 27, 2015
Stephen Baboi / Oregon Public Broadcasting

It's opening night for a new beer at Migration Brewing in Portland.

"Can I get a couple tasters of the low-carbon beer," a customer says.

The new brew is called the Little Foot Red. That's because it has half the carbon footprint of the brewery's traditional red beer, the Blood, Sweat and Red. As it turns out, that traditional beer generates a fair amount of carbon emissions.

Leveretdreaming / Flickr

2014 was the hottest year on record. That was according to data released Friday by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In the Northwest, temperatures also rose above normal.

After a warm summer and winter, last year was the second hottest on record for Oregon and the fifth hottest on record for Washington.

The hottest year for both states is still 1934, when the Dust Bowl plagued the West.

Karin Bumbaco is the assistant state climatologist in Washington.

Kevin Noone/Wiki Commons

A lack of snow in the Cascades this winter has forced Northwest ski teams to cancel their scheduled races – or move them to higher slopes. It's also generating concerns about climate change. 

So far, snowfall is about 70 percent below average. But it's not a lack of precipitation that's left mountain slopes so bare.  It's warm weather generating rain instead snow.

Katie Campbell

The city of Ashland passed a resolution Tuesday night supporting divestment from the fossil fuel industry. It joins Eugene as the only other Northwest city to take this kind of action to fight climate change.

The scope of the resolution is limited.

Patrick M / flickr

Changing wind patterns are to blame for warming temperatures in the Northwest, according to the study. Climatologist James Johnstone was the lead author, and he says, "Basically all of the warming in the Northeast Pacific ocean has been wind driven."

Amelia Templeton

Scientists say whitebark pines are one of the Northwest’s most iconic and ecologically important trees — the majority of which are found in rugged wilderness.

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