Snowboarders and skiers flock to Hurricane Ridge in this December file photo. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Snowboarders and skiers flock to Hurricane Ridge in this December file photo. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Snowpack above normal in Olympic Mountains

MOUNT VERNON — Olympic Mountains snowpack was 109 percent of normal Sunday, a solid base heading into the second half of winter, a water supply specialist said.

“As long as we just kind of maintain normal snow over there, we should be able to hold those numbers,” said Scott Pattee of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Mount Vernon.

“We should be in good shape.”

Snowpack is measured in snow water equivalent, which represents the depth of water in the snowpack if it were melted.

It is calculated at four telemetry sites in the Olympic Mountains.

The basin-wide average is taken from three sites, as the 4,870-foot-high Buckinghorse sensor in the upper Elwha River watershed is too new for historical comparisons, Pattee said.

A dismal snowpack in the winter of 2014-15 led to summer water shortages in parts of the North Olympic Peninsula, including the rain-shadowed Sequim-Dungeness Valley.

“Last year was kind of normal, but we had an early meltoff,” Pattee added. “We’re hoping not to see that again, of course.”

As of Sunday, the snowpack at the 5,010-foot Waterhole site near Hurricane Ridge was 119 percent of normal, with 27.5 inches of water locked up as snow.

Olympic National Park reported 72 inches of snow at Hurricane Ridge at 7 a.m. Sunday.

Snowpack at the 4,010-foot telemetry site in the upper Dungeness River basin was 133 percent of normal, with 6.5 inches of water in the snow, according to NRCS data.

The snow sensor at the 3,960-foot sensor at Mount Crag in East Jefferson County was 146 percent of normal with 19.2 inches of water in snow.

The basin-wide index at the time was 109 percent of normal.

Pattee said the Olympics have been the “least worrisome basin” for snowpack in recent weeks.

North, south and central Puget Sound basins have been fluctuating around 90 percent this month.

Several basins in Eastern Washington basins, which drive hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River, have dipped below 80 percent of normal.

“The more days we go without snow, we slip,” Pattee said.


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at

Reporter Jesse Major contributed to this report.

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