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Mount Hood boasts better than normal snow water equivalent levels for November

COURTESY PHOTO: OREGON SNOW SURVEY  - The current snow water equivalent is much better than usual for this time of year, giving hydrologists hope for this winter. For years there has been a trend of dry, warm winters that have caused concern for hydrologists. In a break from what's become expected, the past few weeks have provided much more wet, cold and snowy weather.

It is still early in the season, but as of Nov. 19, the Mt. Hood SNOTEL site had received an average of 10.2 inches of snow, and 6.3 inches of that accumulated within a week.

"The (early) storms we've received have been very substantial and beneficial," USDA hydrologist Scott Oviatt said Nov. 19. "For the North Cascade region, two-thirds of the snow water equivalent present has fallen within the last week."

As of Nov. 21, the snow water equivalent level at Mt. Hood SNOTEL was 268% of normal. That "normal" is based on what the median snow water equivalent was this time of year between 1981 and 2010.

"We're in a much better place this year," Oviatt said. "We've been receiving lower and higher elevation rain since the fires. Saturating the soil profile in the fall leads to soil that allows for positive runoff in the spring. The good news is, the forecast shows it staying cool enough in the mountains to build a good snowpack."

Last year was a much different story, "we didn't get a good snowpack until January," Oviatt said.

"This year being a La Niña year generally means a wetter and cooler winter," Oviatt added. "It's a good sign for the forecast and that snowpack development."

While good powder for skiing isn't always good snow for water content, Oviatt said the current snow on Mount Hood is "good in both aspects."

"It's a base that ski areas are happy with and good for water," he added. "We hope that continues so everyone can benefit. It's still early, but we're hoping these conditions continue."

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