Author Topic: Spring Snow in the West  (Read 1600 times)

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Offline jamawani

Spring Snow in the West
« on: May 17, 2011, 09:15:50 pm »
First - warning - there is a big snow event centered over Wyoming - with a foot of snow predicted for higher elevations - two feet in places.  The TransAm in Wyoming negotiates stretches where it is 60 miles between services.  Even if it is not snowing in lower elevations, it will be raining with a high in the high 30s or low 40s and with high winds - hypothermia conditions.

I am always amazed at how many people plan cross-country or Rocky Mountain trips starting in the West in May.  (Even June can be tricky at times.)  This year it is especially unadvisable to start a trip in the West in May because 1) there continue to be major snow events every week and 2) there is a massive snowpack iin almost all parts of the West (with the exception of Ariz & NM) that is going to take weeks to melt out - - meaning that park and campground facilities will be opening later than normal.

I have rescued many a drenched and shivvering cyclist who was unaware of the fundamentally different climate patterns of the Rocky Mountain West.  May is not summer.  May can have some delicious days, but in the high country it is still late winter - with a winter's worth of snowpack.

Please use caution.  Be willing to stop and wait.  And consider delaying your trip if you have planned on starting soon.  You'll pay a little more $$, but you will enjoy it more.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Spring Snow in the West
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2011, 10:35:35 pm »
Is this description accurate?  Two guys in a cafe in Colorado; one notes he was a long haul trucker, and says he often saw snow, even blizzards, in Wyoming, but it was always gone by the second day.  The other guy says, "That's because it all blew down here to Colorado!"

(True report of the conversation, FWIW.)

Offline indyfabz

Re: Spring Snow in the West
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2011, 09:42:59 am »
The North Cascades Highway in WA is still not open due to massive snow pack, continuing snow and slides.  Crews have encountered boulders as large as cars.  The DOT web site says they are hoping to have the road open my Memorial Day, but they are not certain that will happen.  '98-'99 was a heavy snow winter.  This was taken near Wasington Pass right around the end of May:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/5246696015/

You can't tell from the photo, but snow is falling.

Logan Pass in Glacier N.P. will probably not open until late June due to snow and reapir work caused by avalanches.

Offline jamawani

Re: Spring Snow in the West
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2011, 09:29:08 am »
If you are on the TransAm in Wyoming, please consider a long delay.  Much of the state will be facing snow through this weekend.  The Wind River Mountains and the Bighorn Mountains may get anywhere from 1 to 3 feet of snow.  At first, NOAA thought snow would be limited to higher elevations, but it is already snowing in places like Evanston, Douglas, and most importantly for TransAm riders - - Jeffrey City.  This is not a situation to trifle with.

Offline PeteJack

Re: Spring Snow in the West
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2011, 01:04:28 am »
Jeffrey City is not to be trifled with with or without snow.

Offline JMilyko

Re: Spring Snow in the West
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2011, 08:29:44 am »
The North Cascades Highway (SR 20) is now open:

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/passes/northcascades

Cycle on!

.Jennifer.
*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

Jennifer H. Milyko
Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline indyfabz

Re: Spring Snow in the West
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2011, 09:14:21 am »
According to Gem Mountain near Phillipsburg, MT, Skalkaho Pass is now open.  Recent motorist describes a few potholes near the summit and snow on the sides of the road, but easily passable.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Spring Snow in the West
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2011, 02:04:13 am »
The North Cascades Highway (SR 20) is now open:



But be prepared for terrible conditions off and on up until mid-July.  You can get snow/rain/wind, etc in the early summer.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline indyfabz

Re: Spring Snow in the West
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2011, 10:06:26 am »
The North Cascades Highway (SR 20) is now open:



But be prepared for terrible conditions off and on up until mid-July.  You can get snow/rain/wind, etc in the early summer.

Check out the link in my May 18th post in this thread.  If I am not mistaken, '99 was the second or third latest opening.  Challenging, but epic.