Oregon mountains welcome snow

NC_snowpack1230_700x394Ore. — (KGW) After years of drought and little snow, things have finally improved for ski resorts on Oregon’s Mount Hood.

This year’s snow fall is 124% above normal and that’s great news for ski resorts and those who rely on the tourism industry. It’s is what skiers and snowboarders- have been waiting for. Serious snow.

“10 out of 10, you get those really nice turns in there,” said one skier

Mt. Hood ski resorts have seen more snow this season than all of last year. To understand the science of it all we followed hydrologists from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service deep into the woods for a snow survey.

They’re measurements show Mt. Hood has 124% of normal snowpack for this time of year. In fact, the entire state is well above normal. But that’s no guarantee.

“The problem is we don’t know what is going to happen, it’s still early in the season. We’ve had other years where we’ve had a near normal snowpack at the first of January- end of December and by the peak of the season ended up well below normal because winter remained dry,” said hydrologist Julie Koeberle.

Hydrologists use snowpack readings to help predict how much water will fill rivers and streams, in the months ahead. It’s critical. Last year’s meager mountain snowpack- coupled with drought conditions- created scenes like this- low reservoirs.

“Snowpack has really been coined as the lifeblood of the west and so it’s a stored, known amount of water that we have in the mountain to depend on later for the season,” Koeberle said.

Hydrologist’s say- even if we didn’t see any more snow- we’d still be better off than last year. Same can likely be said for the tourism industry.

Winter is off to a strong start- they only question is: will we see more snow? And hydrologists say that really is the wildcard. If it warms up- we could see some of this snowpack wash away. But for now- skiers and snowboarders are enjoying what they’ve got.

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