March 29, 2024 - Miracle March Improves Snowpack in the Southwestern United States


March 27, 2024 March 22, 2024

Back-to-back storms piled thick snowpack on the mountains of the U.S. Southwest in March 2024, leading local media, weather stations, and ski resorts to dub the month “Miracle March”.

Snowpack, which is accumulated through the winter months, is vital to the region. Tourism, primarily in the form of skiing and related sports, brings dollars to the mountains only if snow is robust. And the snow accumulated during the winter fills reservoirs, moistens agricultural fields, and gives people water to drink as it melts in the spring. With parts of the Southwest struggling under drought in early 2024, snowpack was thin in many areas. Until March snow began to fly.

The ”To the Mountains” blog on explains about the impact of Miracle March on Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico. They state that on March 27, a significant snowstorm struck the Valley, leaving “an impressive 44 inches of snow over a three-day period…This included a notable 24 inches of snowfall within a single day, amounting to an average snowfall rate of an inch per hour.” That storm brought the season total snowfall at Taos to 201 inches (510.5 cm).

According to the National Weather Service in Flagstaff, Arizona, the region is looking forward to additional precipitation on April 1, with rain in lower elevations and more snow in the high mountains. For ski resorts in Arizona and New Mexico, this may mean an extended season—and the possibility that “Miracle March” may slide swiftly into an “Awesome April”.

On March 27, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a true-color image of heavy snowpack across the mountains of Arizona (west) and New Mexico (east). To illustrate the dramatic change brought by a week’s worth of winter storms, this is paired with a Terra MODIS image acquired of the same area on March 22. Simply click on the dates to compare the visible change in snowpack.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 3/27/2024
Resolutions: 1km (288 KB), 500m (698 KB), 250m (108.8 KB)
Bands Used: 3/27/2024
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC