Mount Shasta is white once again.
In a month that opened with fire and smoke, it is gratifying to see it approaching its end with rain and snow. That is exactly how it has been this September in Mount Shasta. The Mill and Mountain fires sprang up just a few days into summer’s final month and within a week, they seemed to be out. However, the Mountain Fire, egged on by powerful winds, jumped the containment lines and erupted into another dangerous conflagration. It was not a great run through the first half of the month.
Thankfully, the fires were eventually quelled and conditions improved considerably. The air finally cleared and things returned to something approaching normal:
From the west, Mount Shasta was almost entirely free of snow.
From the northeast, some of Mount Shasta’s glaciers were visible. Many features, including bergschrunds, crevasses and seracs could all be seen since no snow obscured them.
Then an amazing thing happened: the temperatures dropped and a wave of wet weather rolled through the region. Rain poured down in great quantities and, with colder temperatures prevailing, a fair amount of snow fell on Mount Shasta. A little snow even fell on Mount Eddy! Overnight, the conditions on the mountain looked quite different!
The change was dramatic, to say the least. Although a bare Mount Shasta has its own beauty, particularly the warm red glow it gives off during sunset, it was marvelous to see the mountain returned to its wintery white glory.
This was not a light dusting of snow, as I have seen fall in past late September storms. This was a real midwinter style storm, leaving several inches of snow on the mountain. At higher elevations, one would have thought it December or January, rather than the final days of summer.
The temperatures were low, but not low enough to bring much snow anywhere other than Mount Eddy. Though it snowed down to a 1,000 feet or so below the summit, it was just a light dusting and most melted off quickly. I was only able to capture the last remnants of it near the top of the mountain.
Clouds continued to sweep over the area and rain fell sporadically after the first, heaviest wave came through. More rain fell, augmenting the snow higher up on the mountain. The entire affair culminated with a glorious thunderstorm and a great, though brief, deluge. Now the weather is turning warmer again and it looks like autumn is going to make a magnificent appearance. Rabbit brush is blooming, some trees are starting to turn color and the mountain is white, at least for a time. If nothing else, it is keeping the snow streak alive for another month.
All in all, fall is arriving and it is a great time to be in Mount Shasta.