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Sierra Snowpack 2012
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Bradley Jay
(standupdouble) - F
Sierra Snowpack 2012 on 01/25/2012 13:31:22 MST Print View

I have been planning a JMT [n->s] trip this summer that will include some sections of the SHR in the north. I have been eyeing a date and after considering the snowpack for this year [read that its +/-9% of average for the year I have been wondering how early is too early assuming that we don't see more snow. I know that resupplying could become an issue of certain places aren't open. I would really love to get out there in June and maybe beat some of the crowds. I am based on the east coast and do not have any experience in the sierra. Is there anyone out there with some 'local' knowledge? Any advice would be appreciated!


Rob E

Locale: Canada
+/- ? on 01/25/2012 13:35:46 MST Print View

What does +/- 9% of average mean? Is it 9% higher than average? Is it 9% lower than average? It is only at 9% of expected levels?

Bradley Jay
(standupdouble) - F
Sierra Snowpack 2012 on 01/25/2012 13:56:37 MST Print View

From the reports I have read the current snowpack accumulation is roughly 9% of what it has been as of april 1st which is the date of 'normal' max accumulation. The +/- is because the reports have varied 1-2 %. Either way it has been extremely low.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Sierra Snowpack 2012 on 01/25/2012 14:59:37 MST Print View

Going to have to wait. Could get significant snow in Feb, Mar, even Apr. Looks like it will be a low snow year, but weather is unpredictable :)

Bradley Jay
(standupdouble) - F
hype on 01/25/2012 16:44:34 MST Print View

Yeah. I think I am just super eager to pull the trigger on this. There's still a whole lot of time. I'll keep dreaming here in Brooklyn

Stephan Doyle
Re: Sierra Snowpack 2012 on 01/25/2012 16:58:51 MST Print View

Snow will come. It won't stay 9% of the April 1 date.

It's looking like a low snow year, but we can't know for sure. So far, it's been crazy low, but 2/3 of the snow season is still to come.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Sierra Snowpack 2012 on 01/25/2012 22:47:55 MST Print View

Sure, the snow will come. But this is late enough in the season that it is extremely unlikely that the snow will catch up to a normal year. Therefore, it is only a question of whether this will be a light snow year or an extremely light snow year. In terms of summer plans, that means that we don't know whether the trails will melt out one or two weeks early, or whether they will be four weeks early.

Last year we had a lot of snow, but then the springtime was unusually cool. So, even when the snow should have been melting, it wasn't. Most of the snow waited until July to even start melting. That got awkward.


Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Sierra Snowpack 2012 on 01/25/2012 22:49:08 MST Print View

I study the Sierra snowpack levels pretty steadily every spring as I plan my backcountry ski trips. The one thing you can count on is that at this point in the season we don't know diddly about what the snowpack will be come June. The odds of a low total snowpack are higher this year given what is up there now, but if we get a big fat Feb and Mar we could get right back up to average. The official average is based on the April 1st measurement, and at that point you have a fair idea of how things will pan out, but even then you cant tell for sure - April and May could be cold and snowy. Personally, if I had the schedule flexibility, I'd wait until May 1st. By then it should be pretty clear what's going on. Here's a link to the page with all the snow survey stuff, including real-time sensors which are the most fun:

It's a litle confusing at first. For the real-time stuff, look for " Latest Real-time Snow Water Content Data". they have it arranged by river basin, and there are links to rather sketchy maps of where the sensors and snow courses are located.