Want to feel like a Mount Hood local? Read this quick overview about the mountain’s geography and weather patterns and you’ll be on your way.
Mount Hood is an 11,249-foot semi-dormant volcano located about 50 miles east of Portland. The last major eruption occurred around 1800 shortly before Lewis and Clark explored the area, and there have been no major eruptions since. However, scientists feel that this is the volcano in Oregon that is most likely to erupt.
There are six ski areas on Mt. Hood. The two major resorts are Mt. Hood Meadows on the southeast shoulder of the mountain and Timberline Lodge on the southern flank. Both locations offer skiing to over 8,500 feet with base areas around 5,500 feet.
Since Mt. Hood is the highest point in Oregon, the westerly winds off the Pacific Ocean encounter no resistance when they move inland and bring copious amounts of precipitation to the mountain. The average snowfall for Mt. Hood Meadows is about 430 inches, with up to 757 inches falling during the 2007/2008 season. Lack of snow is rarely an issue for this resort, though winds and temperatures are very important to skiers and riders. Wind gusts over 100 mph and above-freezing temperatures can lead to ‘difficult’ ski conditions, but occasional days like this are the price to pay for deep snowfall throughout the season.
This quote from the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center does a great job of summarizing the dynamic weather of the Pacific Northwest: “We have seen the temperature rise 20 F degrees in just 30 seconds. Have also felt on a dead calm day the wind go from 0 to well over 100 mph in less than a minute. Some times it snows at 36 F degrees and some times it rains at 28 F degrees with the inversions we see at times. We have also watched a snowfall of 30 inches and only been able record 15 inches because the snow settled so fast. We can also see large inversions of sometimes 20 F degrees at the base and 50 F degrees on the top of the Mountain.”
Indeed this is a place to find quickly changing weather, so be prepared for anything.
Now that you know the local weather patterns at Mt. Hood and how much snow can fall, the only thing left to do is to enjoy your powder day!
Joel Gratz is a meteorologist & the founder of OpenSnow.com.