Grants Pass, OR (PRWEB) December 23, 2015
During the past two weeks, high elevation trailheads in the mountains of the far Western United States (California, Oregon and Washington), have become snowed over, some with as much as eight feet of snow. Since this has occurred every year since record keeping began in the 1880’s, it normally is not newsworthy. The event is notable this year, according to Sharon Kleyne Reports, because during the previous winter, 2014-2015, for the first time ever, the high trailheads did not become snowed over at all. The recently arrived snowpack is the first since Spring, 2014.
The question is, according to Sharon Kleyne Reports, will the cold, wet weather last or will the drought pattern reassert itself?
The 2015-2016 snowpack compared to the drought affected 2014-2015 snowpack, and their underlying causes, will be discussed on the “Sharon Kleyne Reports” segment of the Sharon Kleyne Hour® Power of Water® radio show of Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. For the live show or a podcast, go to http://www.SharonKleyneHour.com.
The globally syndicated, education oriented radio show is heard weekly on VoiceAmerica (Health and Wellness, and Variety Channels) and Apple iTunes. The show is sponsored by Bio-Logic Aqua® Research Water Life Science®, founded by Sharon Kleyne and specializing in fresh water, the atmosphere, body surface evaporation and dehydration. Nature’s Tears® EyeMist® is the Bio-Logic Aqua® Research Water Life Science® signature product for dry eye.
While the lack of 2014-2015 snow was a boon for hikers, Kleyne observes, it was a disaster for skiers. Many of the region’s ski areas failed to open last winter. Thirty inches of snow at base of Oregon’s Mt. Ashland Ski Area, elevation 6,300 feet, is enough to open the area for the season. There is currently 60 inches at the base. Last year at this time, there was zero.
The current heavy snow, Kleyne cautions, is accompanied by fairly warm weather. Heavy rain and warm weather are typical of a classic “El Niño” pattern of warming Pacific Ocean currents, and Climatologists agree that an unusually strong El Niño has been building for months. The amount of mountain snow, and whether or not the snows persists or is melted by rain, depends on whether the weather remains fairly cold or warms up.
December is normally the coldest month in the Western mountains. If the weather warms up significantly, heavy El Niño rains could quickly melt the snow and create massive flooding as rain runoff combines with snow melt runoff. That was the cause of the notorious 1964 flood.
Whether the warm El Niño moisture falls as rain or snow depends on the Northern Polar Jet Stream. If the jet stream drops to the south as it crosses the Pacific, rainfall will be heavy but snowlines will be high. If the jet stream moves north into the Gulf of Alaska after picking up the El Niño moisture – which it has – snowpacks could be substantial and reach fairly low elevations.
In the winter of 2014-2015, according to Kleyne, hikers entering the high mountain areas in January encountered only occasional patches on the ground. It made for a highly interesting season but most hikers agree that they would prefer a normal snowpack. After two or three years of extremely dry winters, forest trees would begin to die and the many beautiful high mountain creeks, lakes, springs and green meadows would start to dry up, affecting fish and wildlife.
There was, in fact, a small snowpack in some areas last year, Kleyne notes. The rim area at Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park, at 7,100 feet in the Cascade Mountains, had about three feet at the height of the season. Normal is 10 to 15 feet. But many areas of the Siskiyou Mountains at the same elevation, such as Mt. Ashland and the Red Buttes Wilderness straddling the Oregon-California line, had little or no snow.
Both the Crater Lake Rim Drive and the Mount Lassen Road (Lassen Volcanic National Park) in Northern California (8,500 feet), says Kleyne, eventually closed for the season in 2014-2015. But the closings were very late and the spring openings were very early. Both roads are currently closed.
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