There are clear differences between the two droughts. The 1947-1956 drought was relatively cool, with maximum and minimum November-April temperatures 0.9°C cooler than those observed between 1999 and 2004. Increased winter air temperature during the winter can reduce snowpack and cause earlier snowmelt, exacerbating the problem of low precipitation. While both droughts had low winter precipitation, snowpack was consistently lower in during the most recent drought, with 1999-2002 experiencing some of the lowest snow levels of the last sixty years. The 1947-1956 drought was also marked by a period of below-average summer precipitation in addition to the winter drought. Despite the slightly wetter summers, the recent drought resulted in more widespread loss of woody vegetation due, in part, to enhancement evaporation rates, plant stress, and increased reproduction of destructive insects, such as the bark beetles.
If temperatures continue to increase, these effects could have profound economic and social impacts in this region, where a significant portion of the local economy is dependent on the ski industry, tourism, and forest-products industries.