The upside of a soggy March: a possibly longer lasting snowpack that could extend the ski season.
Western Washington’s soggy March may seem gloomy to Puget Sound residents longing for spring sunshine, but it’s putting smiles on the faces of ski-resort operators, and helping to ensure a good water supply for the coming summer.
“We sometimes start losing our snowpack at the beginning of April, but I think this year we’ll continue to build for at least a few more weeks,” said Weather Service hydrologist Brent Bower.
Snoqualmie Pass, which usually records about 435 inches of snowfall for the entire winter season, had topped 470 inches by Thursday, and heavy snow was continuing to fall, prompting a winter storm warning.
In the Puget Sound lowlands, the story of March has been rain, not snow.
Most Read Local Stories
- Seattle-area residents should prepare for wild weather ahead, forecasters say
- King County customers of restaurants, theaters, gyms must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test
- COVID-19 kills Moses Lake couple, orphans their 8-year-old after visit to the fair
- 15-year-old SeaTac girl charged with murder, hit-and-run in July death of Maple Valley runner
- Scientists spot rare, mysterious right whales in waters off Alaska
Through Wednesday, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport had 5.36 inches of rain in March, swamping the average amount that usually falls for the entire month, 3.72 inches.
In contrast, February had a normal 3.63 inches of rain.
The near-term forecast offers little relief from the gloom: At least a chance of showers, and some heavier rain, are forecast for each day well into next week.
Rain shed by the Olympic Mountains carries the chance of flooding along the Skokomish River in Mason County, according to the Weather Service.
At the Summit at Snoqualmie Ski Resorts, an extra layer of white was a welcome sight. “We’re obviously looking at a superdynamic spring season,” said spokesman Guy Lawrence.
Lawrence said the late blast of wintry weather boosts operators’ hopes of having at least one of the ski areas at the pass, Alpental, staying open through its typical target of Cinco de Mayo, often a festive occasion on the slopes. It’s not unusual for skiing to last into May, but end by Memorial Day, Lawrence said.
Thursday morning, the Crystal Mountain ski area reported that 12 feet of snow has fallen there so far in March — more than any other month this season, and more than fell in November and December combined.
At Mount Baker Ski Area, more than 14 feet of March snow had fallen by last weekend, and snow continued this week.
Bower said that most Cascade mountain areas were reporting near a typical snowpack at the start of March, so there were no major concerns about the potential for drought this year. March’s rains have made that possibility even more remote, he said.
Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org