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North Coast and Cascades Network climate monitoring report: Mount Rainier National Park; Water year 2012

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Author(s): Rebecca A. Lofgren, William Baccus, Michael Larrabee

Document Type: Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NCCN/NRDS-2014/705
Publisher: National Park Service
Published Year: 2014
Pages: 55
DOI Identifier:
ISBN Identifier:

Climate and weather events define the ecological characteristics found in national parks and are key to understanding and interpreting changes in natural resources. Everyday park operations including fire management, search and rescue, maintenance of park infrastructure, and visitor use are influenced by weather. Collecting weather data and maintaining climate records provide essential information needed to support park operations and to monitor park resources.

This report summarizes climate data collected in Mount Rainier National Park during the 2012 water year, and is part of a set of climate summary reports from six national park units in the North Coast and Cascades Network. Published in the National Park Service’s Natural Resource Data Series, annual climate summary reports are intended to provide basic data sets and data summaries in a timely manner, with minimal interpretation and analyses. We intend that the primary audience for this document will be National Park staff, especially decision makers, planners, and interpreters; partners; and interested public.

Temperature and precipitation data are presented from eight weather stations located within Mount Rainier National Park: Camp Muir (10,100’ elevation), Carbon River (1735’), Cayuse (5200’), Longmire (2760’), Ohanapecosh (1950’), two stations at Paradise (5550’ and 5120’), and Sunrise (6420’). Data were recorded using automated and manual instruments operated by the National Park Service and other collaborators, including the National Weather Service, National Interagency Fire Center, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center. Monthly averages of daily average temperatures and monthly total precipitation are reported for all stations. Comparisons are made to the 30-year normal (1981-2010), as defined by the National Climate Data Center (NCDC), for Longmire and Paradise, two stations with long term climate records. Snow water equivalent (SWE) is reported and compared to the 30-year normal for one SNOTEL station within the park and monthly snow depth, measured on the first of the month, is reported for four stations within the park.

Daily and monthly air temperature, precipitation and snowpack for the eight park weather stations are presented in individual appendices. Each appendix includes comparisons to the period of record, which varies by station. Highlights of important weather events and maintenance issues from each site are also noted.

Weather data collected in Water Year 2012 indicated that this year had near normal annual temperatures and near normal annual precipitation. The fall and winter were characterized by periods of heavy precipitation followed by stretches of dry weather and high freezing levels. The snowpack built slowly in the early winter months due to below normal precipitation, but by March the snowpack reached above normal conditions that persisted through early July. An extremely dry and warm August and September provided ideal conditions for lightning strikes to ignite several fires when a storm cell moved through the park in early September.

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Suggested Citations:
In Text Citation:
Lofgren and others (2014) or (Lofgren et al., 2014)

References Citation:
Lofgren, R.A., W. Baccus, and M. Larrabee, 2014, North Coast and Cascades Network climate monitoring report: Mount Rainier National Park; Water year 2012: Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NCCN/NRDS-2014/705, National Park Service, 55 p..