What Happened to Winter?

It is a well-established fact that Washingtonians love our great outdoors. In the Summer, we flock to Paradise on Mount Rainier for idyllic adventures, drive out to Granite Falls to ride on horseback, or hop on our bikes to enjoy our regional trail network. During the Winter, many of us head for the hills with our snowboards, sleds, skis, and snowshoes with dreams of fresh powder. But sadly, warm temperatures and low snowpack has kept most of that winter equipment in the garage this year. All season long, Washington’s ski resorts have watched the weather forecasts closely, frequently sharing reports which lament the disappointing conditions.

Why does this matter to the ROSS? It’s not just our nostalgia for snow angels, goggle tans, or hot chocolate in the lodge. Nor is it simply out of concern for businesses like Steven’s Pass that saw half as many days of operations as last year, or those around it that depend on winter sports for a big portion of their revenue. Ski slopes and nordic parks may be among the casualties of a changing climate, even here in the Pacific Northwest.  Add this to the truly scary implications of the record low snowpack in the Cascades: the effect on our water resources and regional ecosystem. This winter’s weirdly warm weather may be a harbinger of seasons to come.

Over the weekend, Stevens Pass reported more snow and plans to stay open through April 15th. For those hoping to get one more run in, this recent snow may be the last chance to enjoy the snow before next winter--which we hope is not a repeat of this year’s drought conditions.

Mount Index Photo Credit: Pictoscribe on Creative Commons

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