The visible satellite photo above shows a typical January winter scene over California's Sierra mountains during the winter of 2013. The photo below shows the barren contrast of January 2014. Notice that only the highest elevations of the Sierra ridge show snow coverage. Heavenly ski resort of south lake Tahoe reports only 59 inches of total snowfall this winter. Like Oregon resorts, California boarders and skiers are dealing with limited operations due to lack of snow.
An update to the Mt. Hood snowpack shows enough snow to melt into 18.5 inches of water, which is 51 percent of normal for the season. If you compare resort snow figures to last year, the news seems much worse. Timberline resort reports 145 inches of total snowfall this winter compared to 319 inches through mid-January one year ago. Low elevation snow at 4,000 feet has been nearly non-existent, with less than a foot on the ground most of the season to date.
Forecast models have been hinting at decent moisture the first two weeks of February, but snow levels may be high. Extended weather models through April offer little hope of a big spring snowfall over the Cascades.
Meteorologist Rod Hill, follow me @