Fresh, late April snow blankets Mount Shasta.
It goes without saying that this winter was a disappointment in terms of precipitation. The fall was excellent, with good rains in October and ample snow in December. The month nearly exceeded records for snowfall in many parts of Northern California. However, a few days into January the precipitation came to a screeching halt and the rest of the month was unusually warm and dry. February and March weren’t much better, with only short bursts of light rain or snow punctuating the otherwise dry months. Then April arrived and the month has once again seen significant precipitation. Here in Mount Shasta, the month’s normal amount of precipitation fell in a week and the weather kept right on coming. A couple of feet or more of snow fell on Mount Shasta, adding to the snow that remained from December’s storms. While by no means a solution to the poor winter, it is a relief nonetheless to get this much water this late in the wet season.
Hopefully we get more rain and snow in May but whether we do or not, the recent weather has added to the mountain’s beauty.
At the beginning of the month, Mount Shasta still had a fair amount of snow but nearly all of it was left over from the storms that passed through in December. The warm weather had depleted the snowpack significantly but the mountain’s upper areas still looked white.
While the first round of storms mostly fell as rain throughout the area, the higher levels of Mount Shasta got a new layer of snow. Many areas noted that up to 10 inches fell. This was enough to make the upper crags on the mountain midwinter white. It was a refreshing sight to say the least.
The snow fell at lower elevations too. Shaded areas, like the north side of the Castle Crags, were able to retain a fair amount of snow. This will all melt soon and flow into Little Castle Creek and some awesome, mysterious waterfalls hidden away in the canyon. Other falls in the Crags will flow with renewed life for a while. These are omens of good May hiking to come!
The next round of weather was heralded by fierce winds. The wind whipped across Mount Shasta, sheering the snow off of the slopes. Protruding crags cut into the blowing snow, creating streaming contrails of snow. It was a really dramatic scene.
This video gives a bit of an idea how much was going on on Mount Shasta. The contrails really highlighted the violent conditions up there.
Latter, the coming storm was presaged by the presence of a nice lenticular stack. It always amazes me how these clouds form when the weather is changing. Mount Shasta is like a giant weathervane, indicating what the systems are doing and where they are going. In this case, the cloud lasted a little longer before dark clouds overtook the region. Rain and snow soon began to fall and lasted for a few days. It was marvelous.
The storm left deeper layers of snow all over the Mount Shasta area. The snow line seemed to be around 4,000 or so feet and there were several inches built up. In some places it seemed well over a foot of snow from the last few days. This is all good for the forests and rivers that lie downstream.
Mount Shasta itself looked magnificent in the fresh snow. The towering mountain once again resembled Joaquin Miller’s great white tower thrust upward into the sky.
The forecast once again calls for sunshine for the next several days but the temperatures will generally be cooler, allowing the snow to linger for a while, hopefully until more snow comes and adds even more belated depth to the snowpack. Even if this is not the case, the amount we have received is a blessing and one for which I am deeply grateful!