“Just how long is your trekking season?”
“When should I begin my trip?”
Replies to these questions may vary each year. This manual offers useful tools to track the snowpack across the road corridor and estimate when key areas on the road will get snow free.
Snow can make for hazardous circumstances –this guide will also present basic information about the dangers of snow travel on the PNT so you can plan a trip that’s well-suited to your skill level. Remember, snow storms can occur any time of year around the Pacific Northwest Trail. Always be ready for a couple of days of cold, wet weatherin summertime.
Monitoring the snowpack
Present-day conditions Deciding upon a start date
Shoulder season dangers Avalanche forecasts
Winter excursions on the PNT
Snow Tracking Snowpack and Trip Planning
By year-to-year, snowfall in the Northwest can differ significantly and can impact the trekking season and trail conditions for the Pacific Northwest Trail.
Using SWE Charts The SWE Charts below display current averages of Snow Water Equivalent compared to some 30 year average for basins in each state. These graphs can be used to gauge when the trail corridor could become snowfree each summer.
When the current snowpack is greater than the historic average (over 100 percent ), then paths will normally hold snow longer, and also the weather window can be delayed by as much as two or three months in some areas. Be aware that predictions early in the season might be subject to change as new information is gathered from storms later in the year.
Using the NRCS Interactive SNOTEL Map
The interactive SNOTEL map shown below is configured to show the depth of the snowpack in inches in the SNOTEL tracking sites nearest the PNT. This information can be used to form a rough estimate of the amount of snow now on the trail by assessing snowpack at various locations, and by looking closely at the elevation of the website.
Be aware that snow depth on the trail at higher elevations can be much greater than what is shown here and may also change significantly due to other problems.
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