The 4th of July was a lot of fun and the “ooohs” and “aahhhs” from the little kids last night are one of the things I enjoy a great deal. I was even accused of being the biggest kid present as I spent a couple of hours running around putting on a fireworks display. I will neither confirm nor deny that accusation. 😉
I did catch some news yesterday and today about the snow depths. One of the guests at last night’s festivities had just arrived from Montana and he informed me of the issues with snow removal that are ongoing around Glacier National Park. It only took me a few moments this morning to find this news article. The road in question opened in July of 1933 and that marks one of the 3 openings later than the 4th of July. The other took place in WWII because of reduced staffing. So 2011 goes down as the LATEST snow removal issue ever recorded. They have bee working on removing the snow since April 1st. That is 3 months of snow removal work that is not yet done. That has never happened in the past 78 years.
That got me looking at snow coverage and some odd things showed up. Here is the snow coverage as of the 4th of July.
There are a lot of places that still have many feet of snow present. This is a reasonable representation of the snow coverage as the news that snow is on the ground at these locations is real.
The Rutgers Snow Lab isn’t showing any snow at all.
Now part of the issues is scale. The Rutgers people are looking at large grids and the remaining snow is at mountain tops. So the resolution of the Rutgers data is not very good. That being said, how useful is the data that doesn’t detect record snow levels in the month of July? None of the snow that is there shows up in the Rutgers map. None of it. How many other places fall in the same situation? I cannot tell you. I think it is time to start looking for a new source of data here.
What is clear is that the Summer of 2011 is breaking all the records for the snow that is still in the mountains. The level of snow that fell during the winter was a great deal, but not the greatest. The unusual thing is how late in the year it kept snowing and it is only now in the month of July starting to melt. In 2011 there were 11 ski resorts open for business on the 4th of July. Thousands of people spent the middle of summer skiing.
I will look into this more as the summer progresses. That I am discussing snow at all in July should make it clear that the projections of global warming might have one or two (dozen) flaws. I leave you with the snowpack percentages of normal for the western United States.