Monday, January 16, 2012

Snowpack and Snow Leopards

This past weekend the conditions finally were decent enough to spend two full days in the snow without: a) rain, or b) granular springtime-like gross stuff. There are some rocks scattered in a few areas, but for the most part we rode and carved in SNOW! La Niña has been less than helpful with producing a sustained snowpack this season, although this snow leopard will take whatever cold temperatures and snow she can get.

As most processes on Earth are connected in some way, the colder-than-normal temperatures in the Pacific that cause La Niña are part of the reason why we’ve had such a warm, wet winter in Pennsylvania. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center reports that La Niña is expected to result in above-average precipitation in our region, and the NASA Earth Observatory reports that higher-than-normal temperatures in our region tend to coincide with La Niña events. The overall result is some snow followed with periods of rain that wash the snow away. Thank goodness for the snowmakers at our east coast snowsports areas, who have taken every step possible to provide us with some snowpack during this challenging winter.

Precipitation and temperature predictions from NOAA. Above-freezing temperatures combined with above average precipitation are expected in Pennsylvania according to these predictions.

Snow leopard. Image from Wikipedia.
While trying to distract myself from the lack of snow over the past month, I spent some time surfing the internet and stumbled across the World Wildlife Fund “Find Your Inner Animal” quiz on a friend's Facebook page. I’m a snow leopard. The description from WWF: “you yearn to be in the great outdoors; venturing into cold mountain terrain is your favorite activity. Soft and cute in appearance, you tend to be dominant in nature and prefer a solitary lifestyle.” National Geographic describes snow leopards as having strong legs and an absurdly large appetite, some additional traits that I share with this awesome animal. Especially the “large appetite” part. 

This snow leopard is ready for a consistent snowpack, more time riding, and definitely is looking forward to the start of race season next weekend.

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