Most of my friends know that I have a slight obsession with snow. And by slight I mean boundless. If I could, I'd have it snow every day. My all-consuming passion even led me years ago to begin charting in Microsoft's Excel snow totals for most of the ski resorts in Colorado during that year's winter. Fortunately, I have backed off that habit and instead faithfully check resort web cams and snow amounts from the storms that move through Colorado during the winter and spring months. If I got paid to do that, I could quit my real job. I was blessed to be living in Colorado during an epic snow season, the Winter of 2007-2008, which only fueled my love for snow even more. That particular winter didn't start out with a lot of the white stuff, to the point that summitting a 14er, Wetterhorn Peak in the San Juan Mountains, was easily doable. It was the first weekend of November, 2007 and I remember standing on the summit at sunrise in 19 degree weather. 19 degree weather at 14,000 feet in November?!?! Crazy. Here's a shot I captured while descending Wetterhorn Peak back in 2007:
It was only a few weeks later that the relatively dry start to the winter would change completely. The snow, by the time January rolled around, was so deep that in the southwest part of the state the Department of Wildlife had to feed the deer because they couldn't get any sustenance and they were beginning to starve to death. Literally. Here's a shot from the summit of Monarch Pass in January, 2008, when the snow was really piling up:
And here are some fresh ski tracks, also up on Monarch Pass...the snow was bottomless:
One of the things I love to do is to study snow depth maps. I know, pretty awesome, right? Just for grins, I've made a comparison shot of the snow depth from February 10, 2008 (epic snow year) and February 10, 2014. What differences do you notice?
Here's a bigger version if you're really interested...http://www.flickr.com/photos/dinger/12469983375/sizes/o/in/photostream/
Specifically, the West Coast in 2008 was dumped on throughout the winter, from Washington all the way south to California. If you look at this year's graphic, however, you see how little snowpack the West Coast has. In fact, California is suffering from one of its worst droughts in history. Fortunately, a storm last week dumped roughly 4 feet of snow on California. Even that much snow won't do much to alleviate the disastrous drought they're experiencing right now, but any snow, at this point, helps. If you look at the southern portions of Utah and Colorado in 2008, you see how much more snow they had then than they do now. The deeper red the color is on the graphics the deeper the snow. Look at Nevada. I used to think Nevada was flat and dry. Not so. They've got some nice mountains and they can get quite a bit of snow, as the 2008 graphic shows. Maybe the biggest difference is Washington and Oregon's Cascade Mountains. In 2008 they were probably praying for warm weather to melt all the snow they had. This year, they've been praying for the opposite.
Here's a comparison of the East Coast during the same years:
I care about the East Coast for two reasons: I used to live in Connecticut and one of my sisters currently lives in Virginia, which can get some decent snow. Pretty big difference, wouldn't you say? 2008 wasn't so kind to the East Coast (except for the New England states). This year, though, they've had their fair share and more is headed their way later this week.
If you like snow as much as I do, I hope you've enjoyed this post. If you like weather, especially in the form of snow, one of the best blogs out there is http://www.opensnow.com.