Latest snow survey shows serious lack of snow on Mount Hood

Latest snow survey shows serious lack of snow on Mount Hood
FILE -- Skiers and snowboarders ride up the ski lift at Mount Hood.

MOUNT HOOD -- Recent storms helped a little, but the late January snow survey on Mount Hood shows a serious lack of snow. In fact, only three other years had less snow at this point in the season.

Surveyors from the National Resources Conservation Service visited several snow sites on Mount Hood Friday. The site on the west side of the mountain, the side most people can see from Portland, is about 50 percent of normal. But it's one of the snowiest sites on the mountain. All eight sites on Mount Hood, averaged together, are at about 38 percent of average.

For comparison: on this survey, hydrologists measured five-and-a-half feet of snow. At the same time last year, they measured nine feet, or 42 more inches.

Experts say, for this year to hit average, it would need to rain like it did over the past week-- constantly-- for the next three months straight. That's very unlikely, but there is still a chance for improvement.

Since 1980, three years have had less snow: 1981, 2003 and 2005. In 2003, late winter storms helped bring the snowpack to closer-to-normal levels.

But in 2005, those storms never came, and that year went down as the worst on record.

Hydrologists say they can't be sure about the summer water outlook yet. They say they'll have a better picture next month of what kind of shortages we could face this summer.