California's Mount Shasta, one of the tallest peaks in the continental US, has a giant bald spot.
The summit of the mountain, a dormant volcano rising some 14,179 feet above sea level, is typically covered with snow year-round.
But satellite analysis comparing snow cover at Shasta's peak this July and August to previous summers paints a dismal picture—with sparse areas of white.
Record high temperatures and devastating droughts have left the peak nearly snowless earlier in the year, experts say, accelerating the melting of its already imperiled glaciers.
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Record heawaves and drought have left California's Mount Shasts nearly snowless. This August 24 post from Mount Shasta Ski Park shows the iconic summit seemingly devoid of almost all powder.
Shasta's glaciers are 'losing a lot more volume because you stripped your snow off by mid-July,' glaciologist Mauri Pelto, director of the North Cascades Glacier Climate Project, told The Washington Post.
When Mount Shasta has gone bare in the past, it's been in late summer or even into the fall.
'Imagine how fast it was melting for two months instead of maybe a few days at the end of September,' Pelto said.
In the town of Shasta, California—some five miles southwest of the mountain and 3,500 feet above sea level—the thermometer hit 103 degrees twice this summer.
Satellite imagery from June 16 and 28 and July 18 illustrating the progressive loss of snowcover on Mt. Shasta's Whitney Glacier, the largest in California
A photo of Mount Shasta from August 1973 shows it thoroughly carpeted in snow. There's about one square mile of glacier ice left on Mount Shasta today, less than half of what was there in the early 1980s
Even halfway up the mountain, temperatures reached between 77 to 84 degrees at the end of June, leading to the rapid melt of Whitney Glacier, the largest in California.
Whitney Glacier has retreated about a half-mile—nearly one-quarter of its total length—in the past 16 years.
In 2021 alone, it's lost 15 to 20 percent of its volume, the Post reported, and is splintering into two smaller glaciers.
There's about one square mile of glacier ice left on Mount Shasta today, Pelto said, less than half of what was there in the early '80s.
'The loss is accelerating and 2021 will be the single biggest volume loss year,' he told the Post.
On Twitter, Pelto said the fragmenting of Shasta's glaciers due to the exceptional melting 'is not an easily or likely reversible.'