Saturday, August 6, 2011

Funny names for snow measurement sites

Western US river forecasters depend heavily on data coming from measurement sites in the mountains. SNOTEL is the main snow monitoring network run by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the same agency that also makes forecasts (along with the National Weather Service). 

Nearly every day I used this data, even if I only got to visit about two dozen sites. They're often named after some local feature, like a nearby mountain or lake. I always imagined that Magic Mountain in Idaho was covered in gumdrops or Thunderhead in Colorado was home to the Old Spice Guy. Some of the sites sounded like where you'd be assigned to do fieldwork if you made your boss angry. 

Saddle mountain, Oregon is in the middle of a clear-cut forest. Not the most pleasant place to be.

Here's my countdown of the most depressing sounding snow measurement sites in the Western US

10 Slumgullion, Colorado
9 Vacas Locas, New Mexico - translates to "Crazy cows" from Spanish. I have to think there's a good story there.
8 Toe Jam, Nevada
7 Hardscrabble, Utah
6 Sucker Creek, Wyoming
5 Rough and tumble, Colorado
4 Bloody dick, Montana - named for an englishman who lived there in the 1860s that cursed like a sailor
3 Dismal swamp, California
2 Disaster peak, Nevada
1 Calamity, Washington

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