By Don Day, Jr., Meteorologist
All winter there has been a strong north to south gradient regarding snowpack conditions across the western states.
There is a big contrast in snowpack conditions from the Northern Rockies to the Southern Rockies as well as in the Pacific Northwest south to the Sierras. By far the best snowpack conditions reside in the far Northern Rockies. The La Nina dominated weather pattern this winter has favored the northern tier of the nation regarding the most frequent snows.
The chart below shows snowpack conditions as of March 11. The green and blue areas (normal to above normal levels) are in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies areas. As you can see, the snowpack conditions are poor as you head south into the Central and Southern Rockies as well as in the Sierras. The large swath of yellow, orange and red areas shows the below normal snowpack levels.
We can also see the lack of snowfall this winter in the central and southern areas has resulted in a big decrease in soil moisture conditions in the central and south with improvement in the northern areas.
We are now heading into the critical period of early spring where mountain snows can be heavy and can sometimes make up for lost ground. Current trends suggest that the Sierras, the Pacific Northwest and the far Northern Rockies will continue to have the best chances for snowpack enhancing storms in the coming weeks, however, some help in the Central
and Southern Rockies will be coming as well.
However, by the end of the snow season the far northern areas will have the most snowpack.