Pros And Cons of Late Season Snows
17 Jun 2020 2:19 AM
You might have seen the snow that fell across parts of the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana and Idaho, along with the Tetons in Wyoming this week. If not, here's a look:
The calendar might say it's too late for snow, but Mother Nature always has the final say.
In higher elevations across the West, snow can fall year-round. While most of the time accumulations are light and limited to higher elevations above the tree-line, these storms can be high impact.
Because late season snow falls in warmer temperatures closer to 32 degrees, it has a higher concentration of water. That, in turn, makes the snow heavier. Think about lifting up a water cooler at the office, for example: it has more weight than you might think!
When snow falls in May, June or July, most tree leaves have fully bloomed. Leaves add surface area for the heavy, wet snow to stick to.
The result? Downed trees… which can lead to downed power lines. Shake the snow off trees and plants during a storm to reduce the chances of that happening.
But late season snows aren’t necessarily all doom and gloom. These types of snows can also provide valuable precipitation just before, or even during the peak summer wildfire season. That moisture can stay in the ground deep into summer, and the closer it comes to summer, the more likely it is to help stave off fires.
Spring and early summer snows also tend to fall in the western third of the United States, where mountain ranges are much higher than their counterparts out east. The western U.S. is also far drier than the eastern U.S., and every drop – and snowflake - counts extra in this generally dry part of the country.
Stay with WeatherNation as we track these snows and their impacts.