Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
In partnership with the North Olympic Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&DC) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Olympic National Park is considering the placement of a Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) site within the park’s interior to gather important information about mountain snowpack, weather patterns and climate change.
“Placing a SNOTEL site high within the Elwha watershed would provide valuable climate information for park staff, along with regional weather and water supply forecasters,” said park Superintendent Bill Laitner. “We’re asking now for the public to help us define the issues and concerns that should be addressed as we analyze this proposal.”
Snow pack and other climate information are critical to community and watershed planning and provide important indicators about global climate change. The NRCS (formerly the Soil Conservation Service) has collected such data since the 1930s to help forecast summer water supplies for urban and rural communities and provide critical information for agriculture and fisheries management.
Since the 1980s, automated SNOTEL stations have become the most reliable method for collecting snow pack and climate data. A network of over 700 SNOTEL sites measure snow depth, air temperature and the “snow water equivalent” or the amount of water contained in the snow pack. The data is then transmitted to a central computer facility and made available online.
Snow pack monitoring began on the outer eastern slopes of the Olympics (Deer Park, Cox Valley and Hurricane Ridge) in the late 1940s. The Waterhole SNOTEL site near Hurricane Ridge is operated by the NCRS and provides hourly updates that are available online by visiting the Current Weather Conditions page of the Olympic National Park website: https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/current-weather-conditions.htm.
This project would be funded through the NRCS and the North Olympic Peninsula RC&D, which has recently received a grant to use remote sensing and meteorological data to provide daily estimates of snow pack and water supply.
Olympic National Park is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) to be released this summer that will evaluate the environmental effects of placing a SNOTEL site in one of several locations within the upper Elwha watershed. Comments received during this scoping period will be used to help define the issues and concerns to be addressed in the EA.
Comments should be sent to the following address no later than March 9, 2007.
Comments may also be submitted on-line by visiting https://parkplanning.nps.gov, the website for the National Park Service’s Planning Environment and Public Comment system.
Commentors should be aware that their entire comment – including personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While commentors can ask that their personal identifying information be withheld from public review, the NPS cannot guarantee that this will be possible.
For more information about this project, people may visit National Park Service’s Planning Environment and Public Comment website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov or call the park at 360-565-3004.
Last updated: February 28, 2015