SEATTLE — After one of the slowest snowpack starts in 30 years, Washington is finally back to near normal levels. Statewide mountain snowpack reached 94 percent of normal as of Monday, according to the Washington state Department of Ecology.
That’s a big improvement over earlier this month when Washington sat at just 35 percent of normal.
“At this point I am cautiously optimistic, but conditions may turn warmer and drier in the coming months,” Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon tweeted Monday.
Skiers and snowboarders may rejoice, because snowpack fuels mountain ski areas, but snowpack also serves as an important water supply to feed rivers during spring and summer.
Snow levels still greatly vary regionally. The North Puget Sound has the highest snowpack levels (102 percent of normal) followed by the Olympics (92 percent), South Puget Sound (91 percent), and Central Puget Sound (84 percent).
The Lower Columbia region, which includes Vancouver and the South Cascades, has the lowest snowpack in the state. It’s sitting at just 73 percent of normal.
Most parts of Washington experienced near-normal to above-normal temperatures and precipitation this fall, but the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center predicted a 90 percent chance of an El Niño winter this year, meaning a greater chance of warmer and drier conditions.
“There is still a lot of winter remaining with a wide range of possible outcomes before the end of the snow season, which is usually around early April,” the department reported.