Snow piling at ski resorts

King 5

Snow is on the minds of many Northwesterners this time of year, especially with the potential notion of lowland snow early next week. In all likeliness, this will be a La Nina winter. That being the case, our weather patterns that develop tend to give us colder and wetter conditions than an El Nino or neutral winter.

Below is a look at the average snowfall local ski resorts accumulate in a given season:

Mt. Baker - 659" (55 feet)
Crystal Mountain - 486" (40 feet)
Stevens Pass - 460" (38 feet)
Summit at Snoqualmie - 428" (36 feet)

PHOTOS: Average snow at major ski areas

While Crystal averages more snow, Stevens tends to get a larger water equivalence due to the Puget Sound Convergence Zone aligning with Stevens Pass.

The world record for most snow recorded in one year is Mt. Baker at an elevation of 10,775 feet. They measured 1,140 inches during the 1998-99 season. FYI, this also occurred during a La Nina winter.

Why does Mt Baker receive so much snow? Location, location, location. First off, the Northwest mountains are some of the wettest terrain in the lower 48. Next, based on the position of the Mt. Baker area, it escapes much of the rain shadow generated by the Olympic Mountains. There is not much high terrain blocking the flow of moisture off the Pacific Ocean. Baker also sets up further west than the Cascade crest, unlike other Cascade ski resorts; it being further north also helps.

Just like Stevens Pass gets added snow from the Puget Sound Convergence Zone, Baker has a convergence zone of its own. Converging wind flowing from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia help dump hefty amounts of snow during the winter months.

What will this year bring? Time will tell. With resorts opening up around the region, and more snow in the forecast, it's a sign of a good start to the season.

Copyright 2016 KING


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