Dreaming Of Northwest Snow? So Is The Rest Of The U.S.

Wow…look at all this snow cover in the Northwest!

Too bad the image to the right was January 9, 2011–one year ago.

In this shot, NOAA’s Snow Analysis Branch says there’s snow covering 54% of  Oregon & Washington with an average depth of 20.2″ – an epic La Nina January.

Next, look at this image below–from January 9, 2012–this year’s Oregon & Washington Snow pack:

Wow…there’s only a small area of the Oregon Cascades covered by snow. I mean, that’s a stark difference. The Washington Cascades are in better shape but still unusually low on snow. NOAA says this January (2012) that 38% of Oregon & Washington are covered by snow but the average snow depth is just 12.9″. Without the snow in the northern Washington Cascades that number would dwindle even more. This is a ‘weak’ La Nina year which generally means average to about 8% of above average snow pack in the Cascades for the winter as a whole. So far, uh, that’s not exactly working out.

Most Of The U.S. Asking, “Where Is Winter 2012?”

Now, to the national maps. Here’s U.S. snow pack on January 9, 2011 (one year ago):

That’s a whole lot of snow! We’re talking 49% of the U.S. covered in snow with a nationwide ‘average’ depth of 5.6″

Now, check this map of United States Snow pack from January 9, 2012 (this year):

NOAA says just 16% of the U.S. is covered by snow right now and the average depth is a measely 1.4″!

This year’s winter storm track has avoided the Northwest and most of the United States for a good chunk of winter 2011-2012. There are suggestions this is going to change at some point next week.

But honestly, forecast tools have suggested that very thing several times this winter, already, only to have dry weather continuing its domination of this winter so far.

Guess I’ll believe winter gets back to normal when I actually see it happen!

To track snow cover today (no matter which day you’re reading this) check out NOAA’s Daily Snow Cover Analysis. You can use their drop-down menus to choose snow cover by region and date to track snow pack for any day of any year. It’s actually quite fun, so check it out.

One things for sure, this is no Winter 2010-2011 on Mt. Hood. But it sure is fun to look back! Last year was Epic La Nina on Mt. Hood…




  1. says

    I’m getting worried that we will have a repeat spring / summer like last year.

    I guess you have to look at this positively, the Arctic ice sheet is larger now then last year at this time. The Polar Bears received an reprieve. :-)

    • says

      I hope you’re wrong about a repeat of last spring–but I rarely see us just escape scott free after an unusually calm stretch of weather. I’m secretly wondering about a wet spring, too. Let’s hope we’re both wrong! Thanks for your post.

  2. Karyn Weiers says


    I have the PinPoint Weather app on my smartphone.
    Something I thought of today was that you should see if your computer experts could set it up so I could “share” urgent weather alerts via text. Some people dont have smart phones to download the app but if I could forward them the weather alert via text message it could really be a lifesaver for some!
    Just and idea!
    thank you,
    Karyn Weiers

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