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Author Topic: New snowiest place on earth?  (Read 999 times)
Jonn-E
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New snowiest place on earth?
« on: 04/21/18, 01:32 PM »

I posted this over on FB a couple weeks ago, realized I should put it in it's proper place here on TAY.com. As an update, SWE at Easy Pass is 106" on 4/21/18.

Is Easy Pass the new snowiest (instrumented) place on earth?
It's a bold question to ask, but let me show TAY some data in support of the hypothesis. But first, I'd like to thank Cori Bucherl for posting some SNOTEL analysis that caused an errant fleck of data to catch my eye. And what a interesting piece of data it was. Easy Pass is nestled deep in the North Cascades next to the Pickets Range (not to be easily confused with the identically-named pass next to Highway 20). Currently (4/4/18) it has a Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) value of 94.4 inches. That is the highest value currently measured in North America. The next-closest are Marten Ridge (near Baker Lake) at 73.2 in., North Fork Nooksack at 71.8 in., and Chilliwack, BC 1778mm/70.0 in. This station does not have a snow depth gauge or density gauge, but extrapolating from all the nearby stations which have a fairly homogeneous snow density (marine snowpack), I'd wager the snow depth at Easy Pass is over 200 inches right now.

Impressive enough as a snapshot but it's just one data point. Let's look back. First, there isn't much history for Easy Pass as the station was installed in 2008. But we can look at the available record. Here it is:
(attached pic 1). Lets zoom in on the big year, WY 2012 (Winter 2011-2012). For this year, Easy pass had an astounding maximum SWE of 130 in. on June 1. This site at 5,270 ft. keeps accumulating snow long after most have started melting! Looking at other values for WY 2012, NF Nooksack at 4970 ft. shows a max of value of 100 in. SWE on May 1 (attached pic 2), Marten Ridge at 3520 ft shows a max value of 90 in. on April 1 (attached pic 3), and Paradise on Mt. Rainer shows a max value of 85 in. in mid May (attached pic 4).
Here's something really interesting though: look at the past panel on the Paradise graph, it's from the record winter of 98-99. The max SWE paradise recorded was....about 119 in. in mid-May. Easy Pass doesn't go back that far but even on one of Paradise's biggest winters it has less of a snow pack, that starts declining earlier, than Easy Pass on a LESSER snow year.
Of course Mt. Baker ski area recorded a higher final total snowfall in 1999 than Paradise did (albiet not by a lot). That data isn't part of the SNOTEL network so I didn't analyze it, but NF Nooksack and Marten Ridge sites are nearby.
The other thing to remember here is that total accumulated snowfall is not the same thing as a running depth of SWE. However, in a maritime snowpack that is not going through a lot of melt cycles (which can be seen as a divergence between the precip line and the SWE line), one is a halfway decent proxy for the other.
Compared to Heather Meadows at Mt. Baker Ski Area, this site is about 800 feet higher, and is very close to the high wall of the pickets range. While this SWE data doesn't definitively prove a highest snowfall in the world title, I believe it's pretty decent supporting evidence.

1st graph series is Easy Pass
Second graph seriesis MF Nooksack
Third graph series is Paradise


* Washington_SNOTEL_Easy_Pass_998_21A07S__PST_Daily_series_for_wateryear2018.jpg (962.29 KB, 204x800 - viewed 422 times.)

* Washington_SNOTEL_MF_Nooksack_1011_21A36S__PST_Daily_series_for_wateryear2018.jpg (171.18 KB, 828x800 - viewed 416 times.)

* Washington_SNOTEL_Paradise_679_21C35S__PST_Daily_series_for_wateryear2018_1.jpg (266.18 KB, 547x800 - viewed 421 times.)
« Last Edit: 04/23/18, 01:27 PM by Jonn-E » Logged
Randy
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Re: New snowiest place on earth?
« Reply #1 on: 04/21/18, 08:40 PM »

Measured snowfall is the key.  Both Paradise and Mt Baker have snow measurement stations that involve a human observer, not just remote sensing.

Non-measured locations e.g.  the west sides of Mt Olympus  , Mt Waddington, Mt Baker and Mt Rainer itself undoubtedly get considerably more snowfall.
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Jonn-E
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Re: New snowiest place on earth?
« Reply #2 on: 04/21/18, 10:10 PM »

Sorry I got borked by the absurd 260kb limit and then my kid woke up, so I haven't figured out how to best post the graphs yet. Randy you are absolutely right that somewhere else that is un-instrumented is probably the top spot, that's why I made sure to include the "(instrumented)" caveat. We don't know what we don't know but we do know what we do know, etc.. (Never thought I'd paraphrase Donny Rumsfeld on a ski forum, but there ya go). So this is only about instrumented locations, like it's always been.

As for measured daily snowfall vs. SWE, I tried to attack that using the "multiple lines of evidence" approach. The first was to correlate SWE at this station to similar years at a station that does get daily snowfall measurements (Paradise) and then look at the record year.
The second line of evidence was to point out that density measurements are fairly homogenous in the maritime snowpack. 1" of SWE will probably turn into between 8 and 12" snow regardless of where you are in the range, as opposed to 25" in Colorado.
The third line of evidence was to show that at the higher elevation SNOTEL sites in consideration, precipitation and SWE track fairly consistently without much divergence, which rules out big snow-melt cycles that won't show up in SWE.

Anyways a bit longwinded but I wanted to try to explain the "multiple lines of evidence" approach, because it gets used quite often in science to support a hypothesis when a direct measurement or comparison cannot be made.
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Lowell_Skoog
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WWW
Re: New snowiest place on earth?
« Reply #3 on: 04/22/18, 09:32 AM »

It falls outside the "instrumented" category, but it's interesting to speculate on what place in Washington gets the most snowfall, whether instrumented or not.

I'd guess it's near Dome Peak (Chickamin Glacier) or the South Cascade Glacier. That's a heavily glaciated area that is probably affected by the Puget Sound convergence zone, which could give it more snowfall than areas either north or south.

Or maybe Mt Olympus.
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Jonn-E
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Re: New snowiest place on earth?
« Reply #4 on: 04/23/18, 01:26 PM »

An admin changed the allowed upload file size so I was able to add the graphics. All hail the admins!
The first one is really small, but if you right click "copy image address" then open it in a new window you can zoom in on all the SWE series for Easy Pass. Attached to this message is the Marten Ridge station mentioned in the text.


* Washington_SNOTEL_Marten_Ridge_999_21A09S__PST_Daily_series_for_wateryear2018.jpg (168.09 KB, 830x800 - viewed 419 times.)
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samthaman
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Re: New snowiest place on earth?
« Reply #5 on: 04/23/18, 01:51 PM »

It falls outside the "instrumented" category, but it's interesting to speculate on what place in Washington gets the most snowfall, whether instrumented or not.

I'd guess it's near Dome Peak (Chickamin Glacier) or the South Cascade Glacier. That's a heavily glaciated area that is probably affected by the Puget Sound convergence zone, which could give it more snowfall than areas either north or south.

Or maybe Mt Olympus.

I've always thought that the upper Queets (s. side of olympus) would be an interesting spot to measure. Many pocket glaciers in the area start below 6000 feet and the valley is aimed perfectly to the SW to catch storms blowing in off the pacific.
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flowing alpy
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Re: New snowiest place on earth?
« Reply #6 on: 04/24/18, 07:46 PM »

where’s Amar he’d know.
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