Rare Absence of Summer Snow Is Killing Mount Shasta’s Glaciers

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Rare Absence of Summer Snow Is Killing Mount Shasta’s Glaciers
Timelapse showing snow and ice on Mount Shasta from 2017 to 2021.
Gif: Sentinel Hub

The peaks of Mount Shasta are typically covered in snow year-round, but intense heat and extreme drought have rendered the mountain unrecognizable. Experts worry that glaciers on the dormant volcano are at risk of disappearing forever, should climate trends continue.

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Climate change means we can’t have nice things, like snow-capped mountains in the middle of summer. Such is the case this year with Mount Shasta. The tallest peak of this dormant volcano rises 14,180 feet (4,322 meters) above the scenic northern California landscape, making it among the tallest mountains in the contiguous U.S. Shasta’s peaks will often remain white from January through to December, and during years when the snow does melt, it doesn’t happen until late summer or early fall. This year, however, the peaks lost their white caps in July and August, as the Washington Post reports.

“This summer is different,” explained Mount Shasta Ski Park on its Facebook page. “This past winter we got 50% of our typical snowpack. The snow stuck around later in the trees where it is protected from sun and wind. The snow that fell on the mountain that was not protected from the wind and the sun, was blown right off the mountain. Then as summer came around, there wasn’t much snow, and the sun/heat took care of the rest.”