February 6, 2013

Survey Says...

On January 30th, a team of riders including Ed S., Jerry H., Bill F., Chuck U., Paul T., and Brian T. set out from the North Summit Sno-Park up on Loup Loup to conduct the monthly snow survey on Starvation Mountain. They were joined along the way by Rich & Dolly S. who rode over from Lester Road in Winthrop. Our club partners with the US Department of Agriculture to gather this important information.

Why is doing a snow survey important? Here in the west, our primary source of water is, you guessed it, snow! Knowing how much is on the ground at higher elevations helps to estimate how much water will be available during the summer months from snow melt and runoff. Agriculture, industry and recreation use these forecasts in their plans.

The Columbia River is a good example of a snowmelt-fed river system. Timely management of water resources are critical to the farmers that rely on irrigation water for their crops and to the many species of fish that spawn in its tributaries. Preparations to reduce flooding can also be made if the runoff is predicted to be high.

Doing a snow survey isn't just sticking a probe into the snow and seeing how deep it is. It requires trained individuals with specialized equipment. A great resource for learning more about snow surveys can be found here.

The team that went to Starvation Mountain estimated the snow depth was an average of 48 inches with a water content of 30 to 35%. What will next month bring? Stay tuned...

Photo Credits: Dolly S.