- California’s 14,179-foot summit is usually covered with snow year-round
- But record temperatures and drought melted most of the ice by July
- Lack of snowpack threatens Mount Shasta’s glaciers and communities that depend on melting ice for drinking water
- The Whitney Glacier, the largest in the state, has reportedly lost 15 to 20 percent of its volume this year alone
- A National Weather Service meteorologist said the melt over Shasta is ‘a visual representation of the drought’
One of the highest peaks in the continental US, Mount Shasta, California, has a massive bald spot.
The summit of the mountain, a dormant volcano rising to about 14,179 feet above sea level, is usually covered with snow throughout the year.
But satellite analysis comparing the snow cover on Shasta’s summit this July and August last summer paints a dismal picture – with sparse areas of white.
Record high temperatures and catastrophic droughts have made the summit nearly snowless, experts say has accelerated the melting of its already endangered glaciers.
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Record heavy and drought have made Mount Shast in California nearly snow-free. This August 24 post from Mount Shasta Ski Park shows the iconic summit almost devoid of all powder.
Glaciologist Mauri Pelto, director of the North Cascades Glacier Climate Project, explained that Shasta’s glaciers are ‘losing a lot of volume because you took off your ice by mid-July’ Washington Post.
When Mount Shasta has been bare in the past, it has been in late summer or even fall.
‘Imagine how fast it was melting for two months instead of maybe a few days at the end of September,’ Pelto said.
In the city of Shasta, California — about five miles southwest of the mountain and 3,500 feet above sea level — thermometers hit 103 degrees twice this summer.
Satellite imagery from June 16 and 28 and July 18 shows progressive loss of ice cover on Mount Shasta’s Whitney Glacier, the largest in California
A photo of Mount Shasta from August 1973 shows it nicely carpeted in snow. About a square mile of glacier ice is left on Mount Shasta today, less than half of what it was in the early 1980s.
Even in half of the mountain, temperatures reached between 77 and 84 degrees in late June, causing the Whitney Glacier, the largest in California, to melt rapidly.
The Whitney Glacier has retreated about half a mile – about one-quarter of its total length – in the past 16 years.
In 2021 alone, 15 to 20 percent of its volume has been lost, the Post reported, and is splitting into two smaller glaciers.
There is about a square mile of glacier ice left on Mount Shasta today, Pelto said, which was less than half what it was in the early ’80s.
“The losses are accelerating and 2021 will be the biggest volume loss year,” he told the Post.
Feather TwitterThe fragmentation of Shasta’s glaciers due to extraordinary melting is ‘not easily or potentially reversible,’ Pelto said.
A map showing glaciers on Mount Shasta being fragmented due to extraordinary melting, a situation Pelto says is ‘not easily or potentially reversible’
Geologist Nick Casselli, director of operations at Shasta Mountain Guides, told Mount Shasta News That ‘great loss of snowpack’ in August has left the west side of the mountain bare.
In high altitude areas, snowflakes get deposited on the ground which remains till the arrival of warm weather.
It contributes largely to glaciers and, when the ice caps melt it feeds rivers and streams and provides drinking water for many communities.
Because of the retreat of glaciers, he said, there are places where ‘there’s an amazing difference when you’re up.’
Caselli told the News that the top of a ridge that rises from the Hotlum and Bolam glaciers, ‘when you go up, all the ice used to be, say, 11,200 feet’. ‘You were on ice 100% of the time.’
Now the bare ground is beginning to emerge from the snow and ice ‘and now it seems to be a permanent feature,’ he said. ‘It also has a small trail.’
Hotlam Glacier has also reportedly broken up into smaller pieces.
National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Sandler says Shasta had little or no snow during the height of the 2014 California drought.
Sandler told San Francisco Gate They will also see a picture from 1992 in which there was almost no snow on the mountain, but it was in October of the same year.
California relies on only a few severe winter storms for its snowpack and rain, he said, and the Golden State has seen warmer temperatures and fewer major storms in recent years, “which will make it more common to see snowfall.” Mount Shasta till summers.’
‘What is happening on Mount Shasta is a visual representation of the drought,’ Sandler told the outlet. ‘We are in a state of extreme drought in this region.’
Mount Shasta Ski Park on August 24 posted a picture on facebook The iconic peak appears to be virtually devoid of all snow.
‘In the past, Mount Shasta had snow at the summit year-round. This summer is different,’ read the post, which indicated a small white patch in the photo ‘glacier is snow, not snow.’
According to the park’s post, Mount Shasta received half its normal snowpack last winter.
As a result, Shasta Lake, the state’s largest reservoir, is at 25 percent capacity and is falling by half a foot per day.
The post continued, ‘The snow later got trapped in the trees, where it is protected from the sun and wind. ‘The snow that fell on the mountain was not protected from the wind and the sun’ [and] Was blown straight off the mountain. Then as summer approached, there wasn’t much snow, and the sun/heat took over everything else.’
Glaciers visible from the north side of the mountain are melting ‘very…