Surface Water and Climate
Characteristics of large snowfall events in the montane western United States as examined using snowpack telemetry (SNOTEL) data
Article first published online: 9 JUL 2010
Copyright 2001 by the American Geophysical Union.
Water Resources Research
Volume 37, Issue 3, pages 675–688, March 2001
How to Cite
2001), Characteristics of large snowfall events in the montane western United States as examined using snowpack telemetry (SNOTEL) data, Water Resour. Res., 37(3), 675–688, doi:10.1029/2000WR900307., , and (
- Issue published online: 9 JUL 2010
- Article first published online: 9 JUL 2010
- Manuscript Accepted: 28 SEP 2000
- Manuscript Received: 13 MAR 2000
Daily snow water equivalent records from the snowpack telemetry archive are used to assess spatiotemporal characteristics of large snowfall events over the montane western United States. The largest mean annual (leading) events are found in the Pacific Northwest and Sierra Nevada. The mean leading event lasting up to 72 hours typically accounts for 10–23% of the water equivalent of annual snowfall, with the largest contribution in the Arizona/New Mexico sector. For most of the West, snowfall events in the top quartile of station distributions are most common during midwinter, but those for the Rocky Mountain states and Utah are more common during late winter or spring. Colorado also shows a secondary peak in large events during November. Large midwinter snowfall events in the marine sectors, Idaho, and Arizona/New Mexico are spatially coherent in that when observed at one station, they tend to occur at surrounding stations. Large events are less spatially coherent for drier inland regions. When annual snowfall is anomalously positive, there tends to be an increase in the number of snow days as well as a shift in the distributions toward the larger event sizes. Opposite relationships are observed for negative annual snowfall anomalies. These findings are in accord with recent studies using lower elevation data, demonstrating that the probability of extreme precipitation events is altered during El Nino or La Nina conditions.