Snowpack, as measured on 1 April, is the primary source of warm-season streamflow for most of the western United States and thus represents an important source of water supply. An understanding of climate factors that influence the variability of this water supply and thus its predictability is important for water resource management. In this study, principal component analysis is used to identify the primary modes of 1 April snowpack variability in the western United States. Two components account for 61% of the total snowpack variability in the western United States. Relations between these modes of variability and indices of Pacific Ocean climate [e.g., the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) and Nin??o-3 sea surface temperatures (SSTs)] are examined. The first mode of snowpack variability is closely associated with the PDO, whereas the second mode varies in concert with both the PDO and Nin??o-3 SSTs. Because these atmospheric-oceanic conditions change slowly from season to season, the observed teleconnections between the Pacific Ocean climate and 1 April snowpack may be useful to forecast 1 April snowpack using data that describe the Pacific Ocean climate in the previous summer and autumn seasons, especially for the northwestern United States.
Additional publication details
Primary modes and predictability of year-to-year snowpack variations in the Western United States from teleconnections with Pacific Ocean climate