Feb 10, 2011 at 7:05 am #1268969
Hey all you Sierra users, you know, you guys who actually live close enough to get out there regularly and call it your home base for hiking.
I'd like to hear what you are thinking with regards to projections for the snow pack and hiking season coming up. I can read all the snotel sites and look at snow pack % all I want, but it doesn't really add up unless you live there and can track and understand the winter over the whole course of the season. So can you all chime in and throw out what your guts are telling you about this upcoming season? I'd like to hear when you feel prime time might be heading for this year ie, when early, and main hiking seasons will hit. I'm planning on getting onto the SHR and want to begin to formulate some timeline possibilities.
Thanks for the help!Feb 10, 2011 at 7:22 am #1694892
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
I'm afraid that global climate change is making predictions like this too difficult.
No help here :(Feb 10, 2011 at 7:29 am #1694899
I have 25 years on data on the southern sierra and after careful observation I can tell you that there is zero correlation between snow levels prior to 3/1 and actual snow levels on trail later in the year. So you can get a magic 8 ball and make as good of prediction as anyone else. BUT, after a record December there has been virtually no snow since and nothing in the 7 day forecast. so at least that is good news from a hiking perspective. Check out Postholer snow conditions for a better feel for the whole Sierra range.
Also, I actually believe the SHR could be easier to do with more snow on the passes. I would rather walk the snow then talus any day.Feb 10, 2011 at 8:30 am #1694929
That is the same pattern we have had this winter here in Idaho. Huge early snow storms, and now nothing! We have gone from over 170% down to under 100%. The desert river season is only a month or so away, but our wettest month of the year is April, so we will see what the spring brings!Feb 10, 2011 at 10:24 am #1694977
@obxcolaLocale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Greg's observations seem reasonable to me:
"I have 25 years on data on the southern sierra and after careful observation I can tell you that there is zero correlation between snow levels prior to 3/1 and actual snow levels on trail later in the year."
But since I'm in the exciting phase of planning my first ever trip to Seki and just got my "Secor" and was reading up about CDEC and of all things it's a snowy day on the OBX as it happens I just visited the CDEC site and here's the up to the day stuff for the Sierra part I think. That CDEC site is about like navigated around NOAA. California reaaly seems to pay strict and detailed attention to their water! ( and I'm a specialist at ummm passing the time!)
basins ? snow % of avg for 4/1 % for 2/1
South Lahontan 2 17 22.4" 113% 179%
Tulare Lake 4 42 25.7" 113% 186%
San Joaquin 5 64 28.7" 92% 145%
Kern River Basin
April 1: 129%
February 1: 211%
Kings River Basin
April 1: 102%
February 1: 168%
Tule River Basin
April 1: 119%
February 1: 195%
Kaweah River basin
April 1: 103%
February 1: 168%Feb 10, 2011 at 11:43 am #1695006
In addition to the amount of snowpack there are several other factors that will impact the hikers reality of snow. The biggest appears to be the springtime temperatures. Last year it wasn't the snow level that caused a "bad snow year" it was a colder and wetter spring that kept the snowpack in place. This graph is the SWE for Charlotte Lake in SEKI. Take at look at differences in the rate of disappearance later in the year.Feb 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm #1695040
@obxcolaLocale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
That graphs kinda hard to read but looks like most years there 1s some significant additional snow in late March and April and then by May the levels started falling off a cliff but didn't really drop way out until mid-June.
Really Verifies your observation that late is more important than early.Feb 10, 2011 at 2:56 pm #1695084
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Sierra snow pack normally gets deeper and deeper until around March 20-25. After that date, sometimes a little more snow falls, but it is offset by lots of melt. So after that date, the snow depth begins to diminish. Snow depth is the first thing that snow surveyors measure.
The second thing is water content. The snow does not contain a constant amount of water. It might be powder, or it might be slush. The surveyors measure the water content, because for Water Resources purposes, that is what counts for water quantities.
Yes, once in a while we have a cool spring. The snow still melts, but it melts very slowly, and it can cause huge snow drifts to persist through summer. A cool spring is hard to predict in advance.
So, lots of Californina backpackers are watching the snow reports and are trying to figure out the right time to plan for. For a trip around August 1, I have jumped to the conclusion that conditions will be within one week of normal for August 1.
Meanwhile, my skier friends have ducked off to Whistler.
–B.G.–Feb 11, 2011 at 6:27 am #1695350
"there is zero correlation between snow levels prior to 3/1 and actual snow levels on trail later in the year"
zero? hmm….somehow I doubt that.Feb 14, 2011 at 9:46 am #1696517
@tenderpawLocale: Lake Tahoe
Well it’s snowing in Tahoe as I write this. The winds have the 15 knot wind sock fully extended, the ASOS calling 20 – 40 mph winds with 100 mph gusts over ridge. 2-4 feet expected at the lake. Looks like the seven day forecast has snow all the way to the end. This after one of the driest stretches that I've seen since moving here in 1990. It's a double edge sword, I'm pumped that the snow gods have remembered us, but with a summer off and plans to spend it hiking… I take whatever I get with smiles (sometimes full of fresh powder)!
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