We grumbled so long (and loudly) about our record breaking cold and rain during March 2011 – that the winds finally brought in Portland’s first 60 degree day on March 31, the latest on record.
But in the Oregon and Washington Cascades, that warm up has helped make avalanche danger as high as it can get the last few days.
The Northwest Avalanche Center on what they’ve seen on Mt. Hood:
These current conditions have caused widespread natural avalanches with some very large avalanches noted as of early Thursday morning. A very large natural avalanche released on Mt Hood Wednesday afternoon depositing spires of snow debris estimated as high as 70 feet!
In Washington, four massive snow slides closed Steven’s Pass on Thursday March 31, burying the highway in snow several stories deep. WSDOT crews suspended cleanup Thursday night because the danger for more slides was just too great. So what’s happening? The Northwest Avalanche Center Explains:
Heavy rain or wet heavy snow at the highest elevations began over the region Wednesday and continues early Thursday. This is the first warm event with significant precipitation since mid February. Thus the heavy rain or wet heavy snow is loading the significant amounts of recently received snowfall that has accumulated over the past month.
The first ‘warm event’ since mid-February because the rest of the time it was unusually cold.
Western U.S. Snowpack Will Mean Plenty Of Water For Everyone This Year
On Valentine’s Day, it seemed like winter was over. Oregon snowpack was just 73% of average. Then the snow started dumping. Here are the numbers as March 31, 2011:
- 115% of average – Washington
- 127% of average – Oregon
- 164% of average – California
This week, the Governor of California declared an end to the drought that started in that state more than two years ago.
So can we water ski this summer, generate the power we need, fill our rivers enough for the fish and water all our crops this year? Yes!
I love it when that happens.