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Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
Look into your Crystal Ball on 02/10/2011 08:05:30 MST Print View

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!

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Look into your Crystal Ball on 02/10/2011 08:22:18 MST Print View

I'm afraid that global climate change is making predictions like this too difficult.

No help here :(

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Look into your Crystal Ball on 02/10/2011 08:29:14 MST Print View

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.

Edited by gg-man on 02/10/2011 08:30:47 MST.

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: Re: Look into your Crystal Ball on 02/10/2011 09:30:17 MST Print View

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!

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Sierra snow pack on 02/10/2011 11:24:43 MST Print View

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!)

http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow/COURSES


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%

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Sierra snow pack on 02/10/2011 12:43:09 MST Print View

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.

CRLSWE

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Look into your Crystal Ball on 02/10/2011 14:01:44 MST Print View

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.

Edited by obxcola on 02/10/2011 14:04:23 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Look into your Crystal Ball on 02/10/2011 15:56:27 MST Print View

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.--

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re: Look into your Crystal Ball on 02/11/2011 07:27:08 MST Print View

"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.

Joel Waddell
(TenderPaw) - F

Locale: Lake Tahoe
2 - 4 feet expected on 02/14/2011 10:46:07 MST Print View

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)!