Opinion: Once again, Washington snowpack finishes year above ‘normal’


If this trend holds, it would be the 14th time in the last 17 years that snowpack was above normal

Todd Myers
Washington Policy Center

After a snowy December, Washington’s snowpack will end the year at 106% of normal. April 1 is the traditional end of the snowpack year, so there are still three more months to get the final numbers.

If this trend holds, it would be the 14th time in the last 17 years that snowpack was above normal.

Additionally, the snowpack is even better than those numbers indicate. The definition of “normal” changes every decade. Last year, the definition covered the years from 1981-2010. That changed this year and 1991-2020 is now used as the baseline. If we use the previous standard, snowpack would be about 109% of normal.

Despite claims that Washington state is losing its snowpack due to climate change, it actually increased during the last decade. For December 31, the definition of “normal” snowpack is about three percent higher than the previous standard due to heavy snowfall during the 2010s.

Despite the consistent upward trend in snowpack, Washington’s law on CO2 targets adopted in 2020 specifically cites “lack of snowpack” as evidence that climate change is already impacting the state. This is simply incorrect. Further, those same legislators who argue that loss of snowpack is proof of the danger of climate change, would claim that increasing snowpack proves nothing. Data is dispositive only if it points in the right direction.

Snowpack is important for farmers, fish, and Washington communities, so the trends are positive. It may be that as temperatures increase in upcoming decades, the trend changes and we begin to lose snow. Either way, Washington’s climate policy should be based on real-world evidence and facts, not hyperbole and untruths.

Todd Myers is the director of the Center for the Environment at the Washington Policy Center.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Receive comment notifications
Notify of
guest
5 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Brian
Brian
5 months ago

The author is doing the exact thing he is chastizing others of doing..cherry picking data. Yes, snow pack levels have increased in the last decade. More inportantly however, tenperature increase have also drastically accelerated the rate at which the snow is gone. In the last decade, in average, the snow pack is gone a month earlier than the 20 year normal. So…..we are getting more snow, YET it is gone a month sooner. What does that tell you? Last year one of the worst droughts on record.. this guy saying “lets look at the facts and data”.

I agree, lets look at the data… the applicable data.

Last edited 5 months ago by Brian
pete
pete
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian

Your observation might suggest that we need to build more reservoirs to capture and hold melt water for our agricultural and domestic needs.

Todd Myers
Todd Myers
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian

You are correct that we should look at the data, because they show you are wrong.

The NRCS collects the official snowpack data and it shows that far from being “a month earlier,” in some places meltout is occurring later.

For example, in Spokane, meltout is now a day later for the current 30-year normal compared to the previous standard. The same is true for Lower Columbia, which includes Clark County, where meltout is four days later for the updated normals.

This is pretty typical. Make a claim (snowpack is declining), then when that turns out to be false, switch to a new unsubstantiated claim that also turns out to be false.

Tad Reid
Tad Reid
2 months ago

So Washington’s snowpack is doing fine that’s great! What about our neighbors? You know, those folks outside those arbitrarily drawn lines called “states”. From what I hear they’re not doing as well. Shouldn’t we clean up our act to help them?

Emmett
Emmett
13 days ago

Even the numbers given in this chart shows a trending decline.