Thursday, April 4, 2013

Plowing Activity Begins on the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Earlier this week Glacier National Park announced that plowing activity has begun on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The first website update is reporting that the West Lakes road crew has started removing snow off the road at Lake McDonald Lodge Gate towards the North McDonald Road area. So far the crew has encountered snow depths of 12-20 inches, while the road surface is covered with 2 to 4 inches of ice.

In Many Glacier, road crews also started plowing on the main road towards the Many Glacier Valley, beginning just past the dam. They've encountered drifts of more than 10 feet deep.

If you're worried about drought and forest fires in Glacier later this summer, there's some great news from the Flattop Mountain SNOTEL. According to the latest data published by the SNOTEL (SNOw TELemetry) station, the amount of snow in Glacier National Park is now above the 40-year average - roughly one month ahead of the average peak time. As of April 1st the SNOTEL is measuring a total of 48.2 inches of Snow Water Equivalent (SWE), which is the weight of snow water equivalent to inches of water. That amount is already 2.3 inches above the 40 year average, but is still below last year's peak, which reached 55.8 inches on May 6th.

The Flattop Mountain SNOTEL station is located at an elevation of approximately 6300 feet on Flattop Mountain, which is a high plateau between the Lewis and Livingston Ranges in Glacier National Park. According to the website, "Flattop Mountain is a useful indicator of snowfall throughout Glacier National Park because it is subject to the factors that influence conditions elsewhere in the park".

Data from the Flattop Mountain SNOTEL is compiled by water year, which runs from October 1st through September 30th.

The following is a graph that compares SWE for 2013 versus the average and other significant water years (you can click here for a larger version):

Hiking in Glacier National Park

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