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Snowpack Below Normal at Mount Spokane

Photo courtesy of Eneko Muiño via Flickr"

While this looks like a normal winter for snowfall in the Spokane area, that’s not the case for area mountains.

At the end of 2016, Spokane had received 22.3 inches of snow at the airport, just a bit more than average. But you may be surprised to learn that at Mt. Spokane and nearby mountains the snowpack is actually below normal.

“The snow were getting in the mountains is almost the exact same amount were getting in the valley, whereas we should be getting a whole lot more on the mountain than the valley,” says Scott Pattee of the Natural Resource Soil Conservation service. Patee says the snowpack on Mt Spokane is averaging 80 percent of normal on Mt. Spokane. He says the ten monitoring stations range from 65 to 138 percent of normal, but the higher up the mountain you go, the less than average snowpack there is. “And the interesting thing is the 138 percent site is the lowest elevation site in the basin at only 3200 feet elevation.

Pattee says the Spokane area has the lowest mountain snowpack in Washington. The higher the snow is up in the mountains the later it will melt and be available for spring irrigation and power generation.

Pattee says it’s even worse in some area of the Idaho panhandle. The snow pack at Schweitzer Mountain is currently 69 percent of normal. He says the 3 month weather forecast from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center calls for a likelihood of above average precipitation and near normal temperatures, so he expects the snow pack to increase.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.