This is my absolute favorite time of year. Why? Snow, of course!
I think snow is fantastic. I love being in the snow and being outside during the winter months. I enjoy sledding, skiing (downhill, Nordic, and now backcountry), snowboarding, etc. I love it. Then there are the sports that I want to try and haven’t experienced yet, like snowmobiling and ice fishing!
We are lucky to live in an area that has such an abundance of outdoor recreational activities available. The outdoors during winter can also be especially dangerous though, for those who adventure unprepared. The good news is that there are a multitude of ways to get more information about snow data that can help predict weather and climate.
I’m personally a total data geek, and I wanted to talk about some of the ways scientists can use data to measure different outcomes. The information can be utilized for a few different pursuits ranging from water resource management to backcountry skiing. This valuable information can inform and empower a variety of stakeholders ranging from mayors to private landowners to city planners. It’s called SNOTEL (Snowpack Telemetry)! The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has designed two delightful infographics that highlight parts of the program.
Another way to predict weather can be from studying a climatic pheomena called ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation.) Now, I am not a climate scientist so I do encourage you to check out
for more information.
The video below explains the process of predictions and
some of the limitations that exist when trying to predict seasonal forecasting.
If you notice, even in a weak La Niña year, the Northwestern United States does tend to receive an increased amount of cool, wet weather. This has led some to believe that there may be increased snowfall in the NW associated with La Niña. I certainly hope so!
Cheers to a solid snowpack this winter, and Happy Holidays!
Dewitt, Dave. Predicting El Niño and La Niña Events. Online video clip. YouTube. October 7, 2016. https://youtu.be/BAFUG4bRRd0
ENSO Blog. Science and Information for a Climate-Smart Nation. https://www.climate.gov/news-features/department/enso-blog.
Gratz, Joel. “Whats a Snotel Site and How Does it Work?” http://www.onthesnow.com/news/a/584877/what-s-a-snotel-site-and-how-s-it-work-
Halpert, Mike. NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s 2016-17 winter outlook. Online video clip. YouTube. October 20, 2016. https://youtu.be/KF8YwYUcB_E
L’Heureux, Michelle. “What is the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in a nutshell?” May 5th, 2014. https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/enso/what-el-ni%C3%B1o%E2%80%93southern-oscillation-enso-nutshell
Miller, Spencer. “Measuring the Value of Snow. March 14th, 2014. http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/14/measuring-the-value-of-snow/
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. “La Niña Outlook, Impacts for Winter 2016-17.” https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/news/la-nina-outlook-impacts-winter-2016-17
NRCS National Water and Climate Center. “SNOTEL Data Collection Network Fact Sheet.” http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/factpub/sntlfct1.html