May 15, 2015

Diminished snowpack in the Pacific Northwest

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

Despite several months with average or just-below average precipitation, concerns about drought are growing in the states of Oregon and Washington. That’s because winter and early spring snows instead fell as rain. Like many parts of the western United States and Canada, the region depends on mountaintop snow as a sort of frozen reservoir that melts and fills streams and rivers through warmer, drier summer months. Warmer than usual temperatures on land and offshore in the North Pacific led to rainfall events even at high elevations.