Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter is Here!

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.  
I can say, though, that the Earth is experiencing a weak La Niña this year. The video below explains more about the predictions for Winter 2016-17.

If video isn’t your thing, here is an image outlining the GENERAL trend that weather might show this year across the globe.


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!

~ Ava

Works Cited

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

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Little Chumstick Creek Community Tire Clean-Up Day

In the summer of 2016, a property was foreclosed adjacent to Little Chumstick Creek.  During the clean-up process, a non-local contractor avoided dumping fees by disposing of 300-350 tires directly into Little Chumstick Creek.  After several months of frustrated neighbors working with the bank that owns the offending property, and pressuring the responsible contractor to remedy the problem, the neighborhood had little success.  During the recent implementation of a Cascadia Conservation District stream restoration project on adjoining property, the neighbors reached out to see if the CD could assist with removal and disposal of the tires.
Tires illegally dumped in creek

Volunteers hauling tires out of creek
AmeriCorps member Ava is keeping track of signing in volunteers
Little Chumstick Creek is a tributary of Chumstick Creek, which has been identified as critical steelhead and salmon habitat in the Wenatchee River Watershed. Streams were re-opened to fish passage in 2012 after 13 fish barriers were removed and replaced with cast concrete bridges.  Following the barrier removal, endangered steelhead and spring chinook have increased use of the creek which offers protection to juveniles during high water events in the Wenatchee River, and cold water for spawning during peak summer temperatures.

Most of this ~15 mile watershed has been utilized for agriculture throughout the 20th century, which has resulted in severally degraded habitat throughout much of the watershed.  Cascadia Conservation District has partnered with Washington Department of Ecology to make stream restoration a priority in the Chumstick watershed, and this project area represents an excellent example of an area in need of restoration and clean-up to improve habitat as well as water quality and quantity.
Semi-trailer used to haul tires away from site

The district hosts 1-2 volunteer clean up days in each of the Chelan County Watersheds each year. Our efforts are directed towards building relationships within the community we serve, as well as local by-in to continue implementing restoration projects in the area. 

Crew after helping to remove tires from the creek

On Saturday, December 3rd, Cascadia hosted the tire clean-up day. To make the clean-up possible, Chelan County Solid Waste donated use of a 28 foot semi-trailer to haul out tires and pay for the cost of disposal. We had about 18 volunteers attend the event and were able to remove about 350 tires in only two hours! We look forward to continue making progress in habitat restoration throughout Chelan County.