Monday, December 3, 2012

Early December Storm

Although the Pacific Northwest Coast has been getting pounded for weeks, there's been precious little of that water appearing in The Salmon River watershed...until December dawned.

The first three days of December saw 3.7 inches of precipitation fall on the Galena Summit SNOTEL.  While most of the storm's output fell as rain in the lower elevations, watershed areas about 7,000 feet  received the valuable white stuff instead.  The December 3rd Galena Summit SNOTEL doesn't show the current total snow depth, only water content.  Based on other regional SNOTEL sites, we're guessing Galena now has at least four feet of snowpack, possibly more.

Over in Wyoming at the Two Ocean Plateau SNOTEL inside Yellowstone Nat'l Park, the storm produced an almost identical precipitation total.  It appears the snow that fell was very heavy and wet so yesterday's precip of 1.2 inches created a gain of only six inches of snow.  That's probably what happened on Galena Summit as well.

Stanley's high temperature Sunday was 37 degrees and the Saturday high was 38 so any precip there was almost certainly seen as rainfall and not snow.

The Salmon River at Yankee Fork bumped up from this storm and is running slightly over 1,000 cfs this morning which is more than double the long-term normal flow. The Salmon River at Salmon is only slightly higher than normal: 1680 cfs this morning vs. a long-term normal of 1,240.

The good news is that there is more water coming the Salmon's way, although certainly not as much as will be seen on the Pacific Coast.  The graphic here is the NWS idea of how much precip will fall over the next five days. Snow levels are once again progged to be above 7,000 feet.
Hopefully, the arrival of this early December precipitation is the beginning of a pattern which will bring more soon in the form of snow at lower elevations throughout the watershed.

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