Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tootsie Tonasket's Washington Drought Emergency Could Not Happen In Texas

I saw that which you see here a few minutes ago on Facebook, via Tootsie Tonasket of the Omak Tribe of Eastern Washington.

The governor of the state from whence I came, he being Jay Inslee, has declared Washington to be in a statewide drought emergency.

Apparently the snow pack is at an historic low level, with little snow to melt, the rivers have shrunk.

Texas used to be in a statewide drought. A low snow pack has nothing to do with a Texas drought.

I'd not thought about it before, til Tootsie caused me to, that the four west coast states all have water reservoirs in the form of high mountain ranges on which a lot of snow accumulates, stored frozen til summer comes along and starts the melting process.

Some of the snow in the mountains of Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska never melts. It is held in reserve by these things called glaciers.

I imagine it would be hard for a Texan who has never experienced deep snow to realize how deep the snow gets on the west coast mountains. A blurb from the Wikipedia article about Mount Baker and its record breaking snowpack....

After Mount Rainier, Mount Baker is the most heavily glaciated of the Cascade Range volcanoes; the volume of snow and ice on Mount Baker, 0.43 cubic miles is greater than that of all the other Cascades volcanoes (except Rainier) combined. It is also one of the snowiest places in the world; in 1999, Mount Baker Ski Area, located 8.7 miles to the northeast, set the world record for recorded snowfall in a single season—1,140 inches.

1,140 inches. That is 95 feet. That's a lot of snow. That record was set the year I moved to Texas. I remember that was a very wet year.

That is not Mount Baker that you see above, that is Mount Rainier. Odd, you grow up in a land of volcanoes and you learn to recognize each one, even the most isolated of Washington's five volcanoes, known as Glacier Peak.

I had an incident on Glacier Peak back in the 1990s. I hiked into Kennedy Hot Springs. A long hike from the trailhead. At some point near Kennedy Hot Springs, Glacier Peak peaks into view. So, I continued on, it looked so close. Eventually I got to the base of the volcano, but it was getting late. It was a long hike back to the trailhead, a couple hours of the hike in black darkness. With no flashlight.

I did not know, til reading the Wikipedia Glacier Peak article that that volcano posed a threat to my old hometowns. I knew Mount Baker posed such a threat. Mount Baker got a bit active around the time Mt. St. Helens exploded, causing large areas of the Mount Baker National Forest to be closed to the public.

What Wikipedia had to say about the Glacier Peak threat to Burlington, Mount Vernon and the Skagit Valley...

Lahars from Glacier Peak pose a similar threat to the small communities of Darrington and Concrete and a lesser threat to the larger and rapidly growing towns of Mount Vernon and Burlington, as well as other communities along the lower Skagit and Stillaguamish Rivers. A 2005 study conducted by the United States Geological Survey identified nine Cascade volcanoes, including Glacier Peak, as "very-high-threat volcanoes with inadequate monitoring".

A Lahar is like a flash flood on steroids. When a volcano goes boom it can cause its snowpack and glaciers to rapidly melt, sending a massive flood downstream.

Texans have no worries about a Texas mountain going boom causing massive flash floods.

But, Texas has its own special worries, like incoming tropical storms and mild earthquakes caused by gas drillers.

No comments: