Mount Shasta, white from a precursor round of snow, on the eve of an epic storm.
In many ways, it has been a rough year in Mount Shasta. Last winter seemed good, with a fair amount of snow falling but little rain. The snow, apparently, was dry and had little water content. Much of it just blew away and never settled into a snowpack. Consequently, the summer was a difficult one. Fire was plentiful, even on the slopes of the mountain itself. Smoke filled the air and a pall of unease permeated the community. Yet that all now lies behind, time propelling us into the fall and winter, where hope demands we look to the provision of our needs with optimism.
Without knowing what the entire winter holds in store, at the very least, the first installment of that provision is upon us. An epic storm is passing through the region, pouring out rain and snow in large measure. This storm is such an answer to prayer, a relief to the parched weariness of this past year, that I want to document it in some fashion. Thus, the following images.
I had been watching the forecast and could see that a significant storm was definitely incoming. The first indication of this was on October 17th. Some rain was imminent that night, followed by a day of a gathering storm and the deluge would hit. Knowing how the weather around Mount Shasta works, I was fairly confident that that morning would have a large lenticular. I headed out early in the morning and, as I suspected, there was a magnificent formation over the mountain. It was one of the absolute best lenticulars I have seen in a long time. The colorful rings were in striking opposition to the bare tower of Mount Shasta.
Indeed, it did rain on Sunday night and on Monday, Mount Shasta was gloriously white once again, to a degree barely even seen throughout the winter of 2021. The day was mostly cloudy and the mountain not visible except for brief breaks in the storm but in the afternoon it cleared and the icy monarch glowed in the in the afternoon light. It was an inspiring scene.
Tuesday morning I headed out early for sunrise again. Tuesday night was set to see the onset of the heavy storm so I thought there might be a chance for a lenticular again. However, the real change in the weather had come on Sunday, so that formation was likely to be the only big one. This was the case but the morning was still a glorious one. Mount Shasta was my Sierra Blanca once again and the sky looked like cotton candy. The ground itself seemed to glow as the sun neared the horizon.
It was heartening to see the mountain’s glaciers covered in snow. The lack of insulating snow on these massive sheets of ice made 2021 a hard year for California’s largest glaciers. Many outbursts flooded highways and washed out roads. It is going to take a long time for some of the infrastructure around the mountain to recover.
To the west, Mount Eddy was also white once again. The few times through September that rain had sailed through the area Mount Shasta had been lightly glazed with a little snow but all the lower peaks were barely touched. Now the snow covered most of the higher peaks and the great massif of Mount Eddy was quite white.
By mid-morning the clouds were beginning to gather and the winds beginning to rip through the trees. It was obvious that a storm was gaining strength. I took the kids for one last romp along the Sacramento River before its is overwhelmed by runoff from the deluge. It was likely the last time they would play outside in the rocks and sunlight for several days.
I popped out later in the afternoon for one last look at Mount Shasta before the stormed enveloped us. A small lenticular, harbinger of the imminent flood clung to the summit. Dark clouds held sway, though areas of sunny blue sky were still visible. It was obvious that stormy turbulence overshadowed the mountain. It was a pretty awesome sight.
Oddly enough, the winds propelling the storm toward Mount Shasta also stripped much of the first round of snow off its flanks. However, it is a testimony to how much snow was already on the mountain that so much could be sheared off and it still look as white as it did. The dark clouds over Mount Shasta, though ominous in appearance, were a glad sight knowing the amount of rain and snow that were just hours away from commencing.