January snow glows on Mount Shasta during a full moon sunset.
I was sifting through some old images from earlier in 2022, hunting for some shots from a particular perspective and while doing so, I came to a sudden realization. It occurred to me that it has snowed on Mount Shasta every single month of the year so far in 2022. In the 15 years that I have lived here, I can’t think of a year where that happened. No doubt there have been years in the past where this has occurred but it certainly has not been during my time here. It’s a remarkable thing, considering how hot summers can be.
The really strange thing, aside from the thing itself, is the rhythm with which the snow has fallen on the mountain. The truth is, this was not a good year for snow. Most of the the snowpack we had fell in December of 2021. It was deep and produced a good bed for the rest of the year. It snowed 5 days into January of 2022 and then the storm stopped and things really dried up. Oddly enough, February, normally among the wettest months of the year, we got only the lightest of dustings of snow on Mount Shasta. Still, there was fresh snow on the mountain. It almost doesn’t count but fresh snow was present. Late March saw a decent storm but short in duration and didn’t leave a deep snowpack. By the time we reached the end of March, it was discouraging how dry the three typically wet months had been. The heart of the winter was behind us and we were still waiting for winter!
While the first three months of the year were strange for the paucity of snow, the next few months were strange in their own way. April brought one brief snow at lower elevations but lots of rain. That rain, naturally, turned into snow at higher elevations. For a short window, it snowed enough to make it feel like midwinter again. May continued the trend, bringing more rain at the lower elevations and snow at the upper elevations. It rained on Memorial Day weekend, which began a remarkable run of wet weather.
In June, it rained nearly every weekend. Storm after storm rolled through the area, raining on the weekends and leaving fresh snow on Mount Shasta. Indeed, strange as it is to say, far more snow fell on the mountain in June than it received in February. This pattern continued into July, storming on 4th of July weekend and fresh snow, once again falling on the mountain’s upper elevations. At least it was cool during the 4th of July Run! During this stretch of wet weekends, it rained 5 out of 6 consecutive weekends from Memorial Day weekend to the 4th of July weekend. Only one weekend saw no precipitation. Nearly every single one of these weekend storms left a little snow on Mount Shasta’s upper flanks. Not only did the fresh snow give the mountain a more wintery appearance in June, the cooler weather help stretch the December snowpack just a little further into the hot summer.
Finally, our present month of August arrived and I assumed, justifiably, that there would be no new snow on Mount Shasta. Yet, defying expectations, a powerful thunderstorm hit at the beginning of the month and, shockingly, it left a light layer of snow on the highest 3,000 feet on the mountain. I was stunned while driving to a Boy Scout meeting during the deluge and seeing the clouds part enough to see the mountain and its new snow.
It really has been remarkable, when one realizes snow has fallen on Mount Shasta every single month thus far in 2022.
Click to enlarge:
As we move into the latter part of August and approach September, I begin to wonder if it will snow in September. I have seen plenty of September’s where Mount Shasta received snow at the tail end of the month. If this proves to be the case in 2022, it is conceivable that Mount Shasta will get fresh snow every single month of 2022. That would be a remarkable phenomenon, if it comes to pass!