The Snow Paradox

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Ask any skier (myself included), and they'll tell you that March was one of the best months in memory. Crystal Mountain reports that, "We received 144 inches of snow; this is the most snow we've received in March in 15 years!" The ski area has extended its daily schedule through Sunday, April 19. There's enough snow to run longer, but not enough skiers, who are being lured to other spring sports by our suddenly warm, sunny weather. This past Saturday at Crystal, sunny skies following a cold week made for some of the best snow I've ever encountered at the area; a week prior, storms had deposited about two feet of new powder.

But snow is an asset not just for ski areas, but for the City of Seattle, too. Seattle Public Utilities issued a press release last week stating that, so far as our drinking water and hydropower is concerned, "While the Cedar and Tolt River watersheds have above-normal snowpack for this time of year, the Columbia Basin and Skagit Basin are at 94 and 71 percent of normal, respectively. So while Seattleites are likely to have plenty of water for gardening this spring and summer, Seattle City Light has already seen a 50 percent reduction in revenues from the power it sells."

The same release noted that, "Seattle City Light will respond to declining revenue from its surplus power sales by making cuts in its operating and capital budgets this year. The reductions will allow the utility to avoid any changes in rates, in keeping with the mayor's call for no City Light rate increase in 2009."

Remember that mild period during January and February, following December's Snowpocalypse? The skiing wasn't so good. If temperatures had been a few degrees colder then, the city would now be benefiting from more snow in the bank.

 
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