Western snow pack still off the charts

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The calendar says May, but you wouldn’t know it if you were in the mountains of the west.  The snow pack is still ridiculously deep in many of the high elevations of the west.  In fact, some ski resorts in California may stay open into July… yeah, you read that right.  Considering some areas still have more than 400 inches of snow on the ground, I’d say even with the mid and eventual late spring sunshine, that snow is gonna be around a while.  It’s critical that this snow hangs around as long as possible because much of the western US actually receives its drinking water from the melting high elevation snow.  But it’s not so much the actual snow depth that is the critical factor of this snow, it’s how much water is locked away in those snow banks called the snow water content.  We can measure that by taking a column of that snow, melting it down, and see how many inches of water we get.  For example, let’s say you have a foot of snow… you put that container full of snow on the stove, melt it, and end up with 1.35” of water at the bottom.  That number is your snow water content.

For the west, these numbers are almost all above average for this time of year.  If the snow water content was right at average for this time of year, the number would be 100%.  As you look at the map, you can see that most locations are above that 100 threshold.  Parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California are over 400%!! That’s a crazy amount of moisture still left in the mountains, which is great for the drought and great for California’s drinking water.