Runoff two months earlier in Sun Valley by 2070

Sun Valley: peak snow two months earlier by 2070

HAILEY, Idaho – The peak snowpack in the Wood River Valley has historically occurred on April 1. But come 2070, according to a study conducted by the Pacific Northwest Climate Impacts Research Consortium, modeling suggests a peak snowpack as early as mid-February.

Instead of snow, there will be more rain. Winters will get shorter.

Average local temperatures now are about 1 degree higher than they were in the mid-20th century. But temperatures by 2070 may increase between 4 and 11 degrees.

“This isn’t to say that we’re getting less moisture overall,” said John Stevenson, a member of the research consortium, in a presentation at Hailey covered by the Idaho Mountain Express. “But it changes how we’re going to get it, which has impacts for streamflows,” he added.

“Snowpacks will be smaller, but more important is that they’re going to melt off earlier in the year.”

Currently, nearly 60 percent of the annual precipitation around Sun Valley falls in the form of snow.

Stevenson told the 124 people who attended the presentation that the climate has shown greater variability over the long term,  but scientists cannot explain the changes of the past 50 years without taking human activity into consideration.

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About Allen Best

Allen Best is a Colorado-based journalist. He publishes a subscription-based e-zine called Mountain Town News, portions of which are published on the website of the same name, and also writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines.
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