Golden oaks embrace lenticular-crowned Mount Shasta.
A week and a half ago, I posted on the conditions as a “bomb cyclone” careened into the Mount Shasta area. Now, on the other side of the storm, it is time to assess the conditions. While there is much to say, in a nutshell, this storm was precisely what we needed. It dropped a significant amount of precipitation. It was just warm enough to keep the water from becoming snow in most areas. Consequently, there was substantial rain everywhere, with the snow rarely dipping below 7,000 to 6,000 feet. This was the ideal circumstance. The heavy rain was able to soak into the thirsty ground, which the forests really needed, while at the same time, the upper elevations were able to establish a good base for a snowpack. If the winter continues to be a wet one (please LORD!) then this was the perfect set up for conditions to build on. With more rain in the forecast, there is reason to be hopeful.
So, with that being said, let’s take a look at some of the sights and conditions during the storm and after it:
The storm was heavy throughout the area, but as is often the case, it weakened considerably north of Mount Shasta. The rainshadow that lies over the Shasta Valley often provides opportunities to view the storms at a wider angle as they happen. This is the case with the above image, looking into Dale Creek Canyon on Mount Eddy. The rain was falling heavily throughout the area but we were able to observe the storm from dry conditions. There was a lot of water falling there.
During the storm, I was able to get out during a lull and check out some of the creeks. There was the potential for flashfloods around the area and I saw evidence of heavy runoff in places where water does not normally run at all. However, my timing wasn’t great and I wasn’t able to record the water running high. I did catch Whitney Creek as it continues to carve and recarve its channel at the Highway 97 crossing. This area has been heavily graded to help keep the creek from blocking up the passage under the highway and spilling over onto the highway. In this current iteration, the creekbed had been smoothly graded but the creek washed all that work away and cut a new path once again.
While in the midst of the rains, I was able to capture a rainbow in front of Mount Shasta. It was a beautiful sight but gloriously frustrating. I kept waiting to catch the mountain clear of clouds, the rainbow bright and visible and the light brightening up the fall color in the trees. I was never able to get all those conditions aligned but it was marvelous to get catch this moment.
The storm did eventually clear and it was obvious that Mount Shasta had a lot of new snow on it. This image gives some indication of where the snowline was. Not the white on the trees – it comes down to just below 7,000 feet. Below that it was all rain. Still, there is now a hair over 2 feet of snow at the Old Ski Bowl (and the road is closed for the season). That is a great start to the winter!
Perhaps not as illustrative as I would like, these images are an attempt to show conditions before and after the storm. Lake Siskiyou rose several feet, though it is still down considerably. Parks Creek was consistently high, which is good for Lake Shastina. Perhaps most dramatic was the level of the Sacramento River’s headwaters. Prior to the storm, the river had decent flow but was pretty low. After the storm it had nearly quintupled in size. It was great to see the high water with the gorgeous fall colors.
I was also gratified to find that enough rain fell in the Shasta Valley that my favorite puddle has finally returned and is remarkably deep. May it last well into spring! This puddle never even made a hint of an appearance last winter so it has been nearly 2 years since these reflections shots have been possible. Of course, rain in the valley is great, but I have not been out to Truchas Ridge yet (life keeps happening!) so we’ll see how muddy things are out there.
So now we dive further into fall and deeper into the rainy season. As I said, there is cause to be optimistic. This has been the most beautiful autumn we have had in a long time. The colors are extremely vibrant and now the rivers and creeks are running full. That is juxtaposition of conditions that does not happen all the time. It is magnificent!