Happy New Year: Snowpack and Water

Record snows this fall and winter are looking good for spring and summer stream flows. Even the northern Coast Range has been relatively wet and cold this year. A good snowy winter means our ability to predict how much water will be in streams in the spring is better.

What does all of this fluffy white stuff this mean besides good skiing? It means good sources of cool water that slowly infiltrates into subsurface aquifers, recharges streams by slow trickle instead of flood. It also means a longer period of flow into the spring and summer months. All of this is good for we humans and salmon stocks who prefer cold water. Deep snowpack is good reservoirs, springs and groundwater supplies we depend upon at lower elevations too.

Check out the National Snow Analysis page by the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center–a product of the NOAA National Weather Service. Below is our Snow Water Equivalent from the fall through today (1/3/11).  This means that if you melted the snow from our mountains instantly, it would result in a predetermined amount of liquid water (e.g. 36″ of snow = 3.6″ of water).

So as you chain up to drive over the passes this winter, praise that snow for its spring and summertime benefits.

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