As this post is being written the sky is darkening and the clouds gathering, preparing the way for some much needed precipitation. Deep into winter with hardly a drop of rain or snow, talk of drought has been on everyone’s lips. I am under no illusions that the coming storms will be large or sustained but I do believe that it is a harbinger of a shift in the larger weather patterns. I have reminded folks a few times recently about the winter of 2010-2011. In that season there was a strong storm right before Thanksgiving that dropped a few feet of snow. After that, December and January saw hardly a drop of rain or snow and the temperatures were high like they have been this year. The only reason there was no panic or talk of drought was because the previous winter had produced some epic storms and all the reservoirs were filled to capacity. February of that winter brought an average amount of snowfall. March arrived and midway through the month an epic storm passed through, dropping 9 feet over four days. The first night of the storm alone saw half of that total come down. It was a tremendous amount of precipitation. Needless to say, a prior winter’s events will determine the present but it is a at least an admonishment that there is a lot of winter yet and we could still receive the sustaining provision that we need.
Having said that, it is unsettling to look at Mount Shasta right now and see just how naked it is. The days have been fairly warm lately so what little ice is left on the mountain has been dwindling even further. What is left is generally wind-packed in gullies and other protected areas. Typically, at this point in a normal winter the mountain is blindingly white. Hopefully it will be again soon. Still, whether the coming rains prove to be the beginning of a long-term change in the weather or not, this has been a unique winter with unusual opportunities to hike the high country at this time of the year. Still, as much as I thrive on getting out and exploring the wilderness, the world thrives when it is well-watered. The following links show just how far behind the previous years we are. Let hope we catch up!
2011 Note: This is the winter that saw almost no precipitation in December and January. The mountain is white largely on the strength of the storm that came through at the end of November.