2012 Water Year Graph for Paradise SNOTEL, Washington
Notice to Reader.-- This blog entry has been superseded and moved to a Web page on Mt. Rainier weather overview, weather data and snow data. Please update your bookmarks and links.
Above is the winter 2010-11 snow data for the NRCS' Paradise SNOTEL site, southwest of Paradise. This is the snow-water equivalent (SWE), meaning the inches of water of the snow. The depth on the ground is found at the Website. This is what water resources managers use to assess the water of the river basins and the area.
What is missing from the snow data is the snow elevation, the lowest elevation is at or is persistent. You have to use other snow/weather sites with their elevation to get a general, although not necessarily accurate, geographical picture. This is because the snow elevation has many factors where snow either sticks and then melts or persists.
Something to remember is the difference between snowfall and snowpack. This is kinda' obvious but often mistaken or misused with snow data. Snowfall is the total snow of all the snow storms at a given date/time through the winter. Snowpack is the depth of snow on the ground at a given location and date/time. These numbers will differ as snow on the ground melts, ablates, or compacts from melting and refreezing.
Snowfall is used to record the total snow and precipitation through the winter and snowpack is used to record the available water when it melts in the spring or from rain-on-snow events during the winter. Usually snowpack is about half of the snowfall, but this varys during the season and between years. Just something to remember when someone talks about it.
I will be updating this post with links to snow reports and other information when it becomes available. The NRCS doesn't issue snow reports until January (January to June).