Monday, April 10, 2017

Chena Basin Snowpack

The April 1 snowpack update from the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) shows the cumulative effect of a very snowy winter in the east-central interior, as the snowpack is considerably greater than normal in the vicinity of Fairbanks - see below.  Fairbanks airport has received 83.1" of snow in total, the most since 1992.  However, most of the measuring sites to the south of the Tanana River did not do nearly as well, and it appears that nowhere else in the state saw such a snowy winter in relation to normal.

The chart below shows the 1981-2010 normal snow water equivalent for the SNOTEL sites near Fairbanks, revealing that peak water content is typically reached in mid to late April, depending on elevation.  The higher sites receive more snow in total owing both to orographic forcing and to the longer period with sufficiently low temperatures; so Munson Ridge, at 3100' elevation, tends to build snowpack all the way until the end of April.  In 1982, Munson Ridge was still reporting snow on June 13!

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