Interested in helping Olympic National Park sample snow?
This winter you can work with the Park to help monitor snow accumulation over the winter. Olympic National Park has five sites where they measure winter snowpack. Two of the sites are automated SNOTEL installations which transmit hourly data. We typically do not visit those sites unless there is some type of problem. Three sites are historic snow surveys where we take manual snow depth and density measurements at the end of each winter month. These sites are Deer Park, Cox Valley and Wolf Creek. The monthly data from the sites is used by the NRCS to estimate snowpack and most importantly used in models to estimate available summer water supply in many of rivers and reservoirs in the Pacific Northwest. The sites are important ecologically because they give us a good measure of the amount of snow preserved in the mountains each spring. This can obviously have profound effects on everything from glacier loss, stream temperature, summer run off in rivers, soil moisture and drought/disease/fire impacts to high elevation forests.
All of the snow courses are accessed by ski or snowshoe. The snow survey takes about an hour and requires two people. We essentially use a long snow corer (federal sampler). The sampler (which can be as long as 15 feet) is plunged into the snowpack on an established course. Snow depth is measured at each station and the then the snow in the tube is weighed to determine density. A snow course typically has 5-10 stations. It is a simple job except for really deep snowpacks with ice layers.
Deer Park requires a ski of 4-8 miles each way (depending on snow conditions). We typically ski up, conduct the survey, then spend the night in a ranger cabin, returning the next day.
Hurricane is a 6 mile round trip ski or snowshoe and usually takes about half a day. We drive up to Hurricane Ridge Lodge, then ski out the Hurricane Hill and Wolf Creek trail to the site.
Cox Valley is the easiest to access. It is a steep snowshoe down from the Hurricane Ridge Road about 1/2 mile to the site.
The dates for the first set of surveys will be January 25th to 29th. Surveys will then occur on February 23-27th, March 25th to 30th, and finally April 26-30th. Dates usually depend on road and weather conditions.
For more information contact:
Olympic National Park &
North Coast and Cascades Network