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Weathery Data and Websites

Posted by Susan Elderkin at Mar 02, 2011 04:10 PM |

Weather data from the snowy past week, avalanche warnings and fun websites for armchair weather buffs.

Over Presidents Day weekend, I was atop Blewett Pass carrying my snowshoes instead of wearing them along the Wenatchee Crest. South-facing slopes were bare, and my mind was tingling with thoughts of an early summer.

That all changed over the course of the past week. A series of major storms have blown through, dumping massive amounts of snow on the Cascades and Olympics and creating the most dangerous avalanche conditions of the season.

So how much snow fell in them thar hills? According to the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center (NWAC), since February 22 the snowpack has increased by more than 40 inches at Snoqualmie Pass and Paradise, 33 inches at Stevens Pass, and more than two feet at Hurricane Ridge, Mount Baker and White Pass. And that's the snowpack depth, not the snowfall.

It all sounds like a perfect recipe for skiers and snowshoers - except for that pesky avalanche problem. The heavy new snow combined with the consolidated snowpack underneath and lots of steep slopes made for the extremely serious conditions that we blogged about on Saturday.

Avalanche conditions have improved slightly since the weekend, but they still remain dangerously high, especially over 4000 feet. If you're headed out, do your research, know how to assess avalanche conditions, be prepared, and better yet - choose a ski or snowshoe with little avalanche risk. NWAC is the absolute best place to go for avalanche forecasts and information, and our area offers a multitude of avalanche safety courses.

If you are an armchair weather buff and like to browse snowfall, precipitation and temperature data, you'll love the telemetry data from NWAC. It provides an hour-by-hour look at temperature, wind, precipitation and snow that goes back 10 days. It can be hard to find on their website, so use this link for Snoqualmie Pass

Another favorite weather website is Washington Snotel, run by the US Department of Agriculture, which provides snow and water data for more than 50 remote sites around the state. I don't know what it all means, but I enjoy getting a picture about what conditions are like away from major freeways.

Along those lines, the National Weather Service has a mountains forecast page that provides a detailed forecast for hiking destinations (not just towns and cities), like Winchester Mountain and Harts Pass in the north to Snowgrass Flat and Bumping Lake in the south. Or Lena Lake and the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympics. I use this extensively when planning my summer trips.

So what's the forecast? More snow this week, giving way to rain this weekend.