snow

New research published in the journal Nature Climate Change finds that snow is melting earlier – often in the winter. That’s a bad sign for the Mountain West. 


Sims Cattle Company

It's no secret that Wyoming produces a lot of beef. After all, agriculture is Wyoming's third-largest industry. But producing anything in this state requires a lot of resources, especially water.

Not enough jurors showed up for a trial last week in a case that could have implications for avalanche safety in the Mountain West.


Colorado Avalanche Information Center

This winter season has been a deadly one for avalanches. Many of those avalanches were caused by a single type of snow condition known as a deep persistent slab, which is dangerous and hard to predict. New research may help with that.

katiebordner via CC BY 2.0

After noting that certain regions appear to be responding to climate change differently than others, Amato Evan, an associate professor of climate science at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, decided to try to tease out the cause.

He looked at snowmelt, which seemed to be an obvious casualty of a heating climate. But his research shows that snow in certain areas of the western United States is likely to stay put.

A recent snowstorm that blew through the Mountain West was a welcome sight for states facing extreme drought. But across the southern half of the region, it may not have been as beneficial as it looks. 


CCO public domain from pxhere

Ninety percent of avalanche deaths are triggered by a person. In the first week of February of this year, avalanches in the United States killed at least 14 people. This is the highest number of deaths in a seven-day period in a hundred years. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska chatted with American Avalanche Institute's Jenna Malone, who attributed this season's high number of avalanche deaths to the gap in time between the early snow in the fall and more recent storms.

NRCS Wyoming

According to a recent report, most of Wyoming snowpacks are below average, with the majority seeing anywhere from just 70 to 89 percent of the 30-year median average. Only the Yellowstone and Shosone basins in the Northwest are close to average.

NPS / J. Tobiason

Climate change may make snowpack in the coming years smaller and force it to melt earlier in the year.

Avalanches in the Rocky Mountains killed four people late last week, three in Colorado and one in Wyoming. Drew Hardesty is with the Utah Avalanche Center. He says it's been a fairly dry early season for many states around the West.

NRCS Wyoming

Besides a very early snowstorm right after Labor Day, the state hasn't seen as much snow as it usually does in fall and early winter. So far in 2020, Wyoming is far below average in snowpack levels.

Casper Star-Tribune

Last week's unusual September snowstorm wasn't great for plants.

Assistant Extension Educator for Horticulture at University of Wyoming Donna Hoffman said there are a lot of broken branches on trees, and flowers that were not protected are probably done growing for the season.

Wyoming Department of Transportation

I'm riding shotgun in Randy Okray's snow plow. He's the Gillette maintenance crew leader for the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT). Okray is clearing up Interstate 90.

Kamila Kudelska

On an unusually warm Saturday at the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area, I'm on top of the ski hill located in the middle of the Bighorn Mountain Range between Greybull and Sheridan, where the elevation is 9,400 feet. An avid skier, I start down a powdery run with evergreens and big boulders surrounding me.

On a frigid Tuesday evening, Brent Yatkeman is scrambling to save an avalanche victim buried in the snow somewhere on a ski hill near Park City, Utah. 

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Outlier weather events are growing more common globally, and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in the Bridger-Teton National Forest is no exception.

It was a dry start to the year for some mountain ranges in the region, but recent storms brought most Mountain West snowpack levels back to normal.

 


The West’s water security is wrapped up in snow. When it melts, it becomes drinking and irrigation water for millions throughout the region. A high snowpack lets farmers, skiers and water managers breathe a sigh of relief, while a low one can spell long-term trouble.

Ski and snowboard season is already here.

 


Public Domain

Much of the Mountain West saw record breaking snowfall last year which was great news for the mountain resort industry. This year's snowfall may be less intense. 

Catherine Wheeler

This week's snowstorm brought several inches of snow and snow drifts between three and six feet high in areas of Wyoming. On Thursday morning, Gillette residents started to dig themselves out, and downtown Gillette's parking was impossible. City crews had to wait until Thursday night in order to address the problem.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A massive winter storm that will continue overnight has dumped over a foot of snow in some places and drifts even higher. Local law enforcement agencies said snow accumulations, icy roads and strong winds have contributed to a number of accidents and many communities are asking residents to stay off the roads.  

Chris Jones of the National Weather Service in Riverton said the storm lived up to expectations with the storm focused on the eastern half of the state. 

The Modern West 43: Slippery Slope

Feb 22, 2019
KAMILA KUDELSKA

Ski season is upon us as the sport faces major changes: how climate change is affecting ski resorts and whether downhill skiing is turning into a sport reserved for the wealthy.

The ski industry is an important economic driver in our region, but it's facing a lot of changes. Climate change, for one, is transforming ski resort leaders into activists and lobbyists.

At least two states in the Mountain West have opened ski resorts early due to healthy dumps of snow. Many more are scheduled to open next week. This could be a good sign for our region’s economy this winter.

Areas all across the Mountain West, from Colorado's Front Range to Eastern Idaho, have seen their first real snowfall of the 2018-2019 season in the last week.

Archives On The Air 16: Snow Chi Minh Trail

Jul 9, 2018
American Heritage Center

The 77 mile stretch of Interstate 80 between Laramie and Walcott Junction has been dubbed the “Snow Chi Minh Trail.”

WyDOT Photograph of Closed U.S. 287
Wyoming Department of Transportation

Due to heavy snow causing downed trees, nearly 3,000 people in Laramie lost power Thursday evening. Rocky Mountain Power is the town’s electricity provider. Dave Eskelsen, a media relations officer with Rocky Mountain Power, said several outages occurred. 

Wyoming Water Resources Data System;http://www.wrds.uwyo.edu/wrds/nrcs/snowrept/snowrept.html

Wyoming’s snowpack is currently in a better shape to protect against a drought than most other Western states.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service reported this week that statewide, there is more snow in the mountains than the 30-year average. But the agency’s Ken Von Buettner said it is a lot more useful to look at how individual basins are doing.

Ryan Stanley

Quick recovery is key to avalanche survival. Experts say that 93 percent of avalanche victims can be recovered alive if they are dug out within the first 15 minutes, but after that, the likelihood of survival declines drastically. That’s why wearing avalanche beacons and knowing how to use them is an absolute must for backcountry enthusiasts.

 

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