Item: The spatial and temporal variability of rain-on-snow
Title: The spatial and temporal variability of rain-on-snow
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2000 International Snow Science Workshop, October 1-6, Big Sky, Montana
Authors: Sue A. Ferguson, USDA-FS, Pacific Northwest Research Station
Abstract: Snow melt during rainfall causes large-scale flooding and avalanching. These rain-on-snow events are most well-documented in the coastal mountain ranges of western North America. To determine what role they play in interior mountains, we analyzed flood frequencies in the Columbia River basin and modeled rain-on-snow potential from daily temperature and precipitation data. Applying the model with geographically distributed weather data allowed maps of rain-on-snow potential at 2km spatial resolution to be generated for characteristic climate years of 1982 (cold and wet), 1988 (warm and dry), and 1989 (average). It was found that rain-on-snow events are more likely during cool, wet years (such as 1982). A greater number of events and more Widespread distribution of events occur during this type of climate. The cool temperatures allow low-elevation snow to accumulate and frequent storms bring the possibility of mid-winter rain. Warm, dry years (1988) are less likely to experience rain-on-snow events. There is little low-elevation snow at these times and only occasional precipitation. During all years, areas most susceptible to rain-on-snow are those where topography allows incursion of relatively warm, moist marine air that flows from the Pacific Ocean into the Columbia Plateau and up the Snake River Valley. These areas include the Cascade mountains; northern Idaho, northeastern Washington, and northwestern Montana where valleys open into the Columbia plateau; the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon; and western Wyoming and central Idaho adjacent to the Snake River.
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Keywords: snow, avalanches, rain-on-snow, floods
Digital Abstract Not Available