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Marine Salmon Interactions Program

Record Snowfall at Little Port Walter

The winter of 2006-07 at Little Port Walter (LPW) Field Station was the snowiest on record. The winter saw 4 days of snowfalls greater than 2 feet and 1 day of almost 4.5 feet. Total snowfall (measured once daily) through 12 April 2007 was 268 inches, almost 30 inches more than the next highest snowfall recorded in 1973-74.

The burden of dealing with all of that snow fell to station staff Pat Malecha, Dan Koenig, and Andy Gray who shoveled snow throughout the night on more than one occasion to keep floats from sinking and maintain the integrity of over 90 populations of Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and rockfish used in LPW’s many research projects. All projects came through the winter in good condition, although some aspects of the station infrastructure were damaged. Overall costs, however, were relatively minor, thanks primarily to the hard work of the staff.

The unusual snowpack (and resulting cold water temperatures) also has resulted in some unusual fish behavior this spring. The pink salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead smolt outmigrations from Sashin Creek have been unusually late. Pink salmon fry were still emigrating in late June (late May normally is very late); peak counts for coho smolts are at least 3 weeks later than normal; and steelhead smolts are still well below peak numbers normally seen in mid-June. It is quite likely that this late outmigration will result in extremely poor marine survival for the cohorts of these species when they return (2008 for pink and coho; 2009-10 for steelhead).

Provided by Frank Thrower


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