Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Snow Drought

Remember that miserable winter of 2004-2005? (In case you forgot, that was the winter when several lower elevation ski areas were closed more of the winter than they were open.) Well... that winter was dominated by what we (meteorologists) call "split flow" -- a pattern that features several "cut-off" storm systems that plug-up the jet stream pattern. The result is a weak or nearly non-existent jet stream and a lack of storminess in the Pacific Northwest, with the cut-off storm systems ending up over California. Lots of mountain snow down south... but little over the Northwest. It's been four years, but that dominant weather pattern has returned -- and has been frustrating to us powder hounds in the Northwest for more than a month now.

Unfortunately, I don't have good news in the short term. After a few dry and mild days, some light (wet) snow may return later in the weekend and early next week. But I see no sign of significant storminess returning to the Northwest anytime soon.

To end on a more positive note, my co-worker at FOX 12 (Mark Nelsen) looked up some data earlier tonight and noticed that we've had quite a stretch of dry Februarys in recent years. In fact, every February since 2002 has been drier than average. And this February is on track to be no different. So... where's the positive news, you ask? It's March! After each dry February, the following March has been nearly equal to or wetter than average.

Despite the lack of big powder days recently, conditions have been surprisingly good at the ski areas. Unlike 2004-2005, there's plenty of snow on the ground and all the terrain is well-covered. And the groomed runs have been fantastic. But... it will be nice when the big powder days return.

Think snow!


1 comment:

Larry said...

Thanks Drew. It's been a really discouraging season for us powder skiers, especially because it seems to have been so good everywhere else. I'm hoping for another "late winter" like we had last season. The skiing last March and April was fantastic. I don't know what it will take to set that up again. Thanks for your Bachelor and Hoodoo report, too. I'll have to check out Hoodoo sometime.