A big plus for this winter: A plentiful snowpack

SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. -- Think of the snowpack as a giant reservoir. And this year, it's filled to the brim.

"We haven't had a winter like this for a while," said Nick Bond, the state climatologist.

Bond said the benefits of a healthy snowpack are many: more water for farmers in Eastern Washington, more hydro power for everyone, colder water for trout and salmon and possibility less of a chance of wildfires.

And, of course, the skiers are pretty happy, too.

"Much of the U.S. has been considerably warmer," Bond said.

In fact, Washington has been one of the coldest spots in the country this year, he said.

As of Friday morning, most of the state's snowpack is at or well above the average snowpack for this time year. A couple of years ago, the snowpack was under 10 percent of normal, and the Olympics were down to 3 percent.

Helping the snowpack is not only the snow, but also colder-than-normal temperatures. Lower elevations that would normally be dry have snow piled up.

"Mother Nature still holds the cards, and we can still get some pretty strange deals," Bond said.

Still, he points out that we're in the middle of a long warming trend. Winters like this are welcome but not unexpected.

If you're tired of winter, buckle up. It's not over yet.

"Winter hangs tough, typically in a La Nina year."

Bond says we could still see more lowland snow. And it will keep piling up in the mountains.

But next season is already showing signs of El Nino returning. And that may mean less snow.

"Let's enjoy it while we can," Bond said.


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