Thursday, May 23, 2013

A day (or two) makes a difference….

Today was an unusual day in terms of snowmelt. Although rainfall in May was once a rare occurrence, it seems to be occurring more frequently. It started to drizzle just before noon local time, and never stopped. It was a fine warm rain, and just kept coming.  I am not sure how much water fell as precipitation; I suspect it was less than 0.1 inches of rain, but it had a big impact on the snow. The entire snowpack is now saturated. The hoar crystals at the base of the snowpack are now rounded meaning water is leaving the snowpack and entering the soil. If it keeps up like this, we could have runoff in a few days.
Having worked in the Arctic for many years, I still think it is likely that our weather will cool and temperatures fall back below the freezing point. However, the forecast calls for cooler evenings, but nothing substantial, so I suppose we should expect that melt is on its way.  Around Toolik Lake, we would expect the slopes to by 75% snow free before the stream started to flow. Not sure what will happen here. Vegetation is increasingly obvious, and there was standing water on the ground in some places.  We won't be able to use snowmachines for much longer.

Hiroki has done a wonderful job this week. Patrick arrives tomorrow. Everything else is good. I depart tonight for Fairbanks with others arriving in Barrow within a few days. It will be interesting to see how snowmelt progresses in the coming days.