Olympic Mountain snowpack has grown in last month

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Although only 34 percent of normal, the water content in the Olympic Mountain snowpack had grown by Friday from the 24 percent of normal measured heading into the new year.

The Olympic Mountain snowpack percentage is calculated by averaging the data from three snow telemetry sites, two in Clallam County and one in Jefferson County.

Snow water equivalent, which measures water content, was 40 percent of normal at the 5,010-foot-high Waterhole snow telemetry site near Hurricane Ridge on Friday.

It was 21 percent of normal at 3,960-foot Mount Crag in East Jefferson County and 53 percent of normal at the 4,010-foot telemetry site in the upper Dungeness River drainage.

By contrast, Olympic snowpack was 211 percent of normal in January 2013.

Normal is defined as the median snowpack taken from 1981 to 2010.

The ski season at Hurricane Ridge had been put on hold for lack of an adequate snow base.

Olympic National Park reported 5 inches of new snow and an accumulation of 32 inches at Hurricane Ridge on Friday.

Frank Crippen, owner of North by Northwest Surf Co. in Port Angeles and former Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club president, said that the Ridge needs 36 inches of nicely packed snow for the ski and snowboard area to operate.

Hurricane Ridge Road has been closed on weekdays at the Olympic National Park entrance station at Heart o’ the Hills campground 5 miles south of Port Angeles.

Scott Pattee of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Mount Vernon said at the first of the year that the state was “setting all kinds of records on the lowest snowpack.

“It’s almost impossible to catch back up.”

Meteorologist Josh Smith with the National Weather Service in Seattle said a persistent ridge of high pressure over the eastern Pacific has kept the Northwest drier than usual.

Last modified: February 02. 2014 6:42PM
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