Monday, May 6, 2013

Snowpack Level in Glacier Well Above Long-term Average

According to the latest data published by the Flattop Mountain SNOTEL (SNOw TELemetry) station, the amount of snow accumulated in Glacier National Park this year, is well above the 40-year average. As of May 1st, the SNOTEL is measuring a total of 52.4 inches of Snow Water Equivalent (SWE), which is the weight of snow water equivalent to inches of water. The peak for the 40-year average is 45.9 inches of SWE.

Compared to last year, total SWE is slightly lower than the May 1st reading. Additionally, a snowstorm during the first week of May pushed the peak reading for the year to 55.8 inches, which occurred on May 6, 2012.

All in all, however, this year's snowpack potentially bodes well for a limited forest fire season later this summer and fall.

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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