Low snowpack in the Cascades could lead to drought, but there's still time

SEATTLE -- Washington may have a rainy reputation, but the state didn't live up to it overall this year and it's taking a toll on snowpack in the Cascades.

Snowpack is estimated by the water content in the snow, and according to the USDA National Water and Climate Center, the snowpack is at about half of normal for Puget Sound and Olympia and a third of normal for Lower Columbia.

One reason is that this past November, which is usually our wettest month of the year, was one of the driest on record.

December and January are the next wettest months in Seattle. December will go down as wetter than normal thanks to last week's storms, but NOAA's outlook for January is calling for drier than average conditions.

As for temperatures, Western Washington is expected to be warmer than normal through march, which can cause the snowpack to decrease. It's something to monitor because we rely on snowmelt in the spring and summer months for water supplies, farming, and fish habitat. Also, drought conditions would be bad for wildfire season.

It's important to note that just because long-range forecasts are pointing at warmer and drier than normal conditions, it doesn't mean we can't get a blast of rain/snow or chilly temperatures here and there.

In the near term for skiers and snowboarders wanting to hit the slopes, resorts are still open.