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2013 PCT - What kind of "snow year" is it?
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Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
2013 PCT - What kind of "snow year" is it? on 03/06/2013 17:04:29 MST Print View

So provided I get the time away, I would like to fulfill my dream of a PCT thruhike, or at least several sections. To that end, I have been trying to get an idea of the snow amount this year. 2011 was a record high, 2012, I believe was a record low, or close to it for the western US. I'm trying to understand what is going on this year.

When I look online for snow or weather reports in key areas, it looks like snow is still accumulating and the thaw is still a ways away. But not knowing exactly what snow reports I should be looking at for local areas, I really am not sure how late into the summer it will take for the central and northern areas in CA much less OR and WA to melt.

Ilooked at the PCTA website for trail conditions, but it wasn't very helpful.

So I know this is a broad question, but for those who live in the vicinity of the PCT, what kind of "snow year" is it (high, low, average?) and when should the Sierras or even the Cascades for example begin to clear.


Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Website to check out on 03/06/2013 17:20:07 MST Print View

The website below allows you to put in different years and check out various Snow Analysis graphs so you can compare the current year to any prior year. Perhaps you can get an idea of where we are now vs some other year when conditions were High/Low. Either way, early March is really too early to do much useful analysis. Two years ago Colorado for example was below normal and then had an epic Spring of snows and ended up with all time records for snowpack by late May. So pretty worthless to do much analysis at this point.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Postholer on 03/06/2013 18:37:06 MST Print View

What you need to know is how the snowpack is relative to a normal year. The NOAA site above isn't very useful for that. But postholer has a great chart with results from stations near the PCT:

As of today it looks like a low snow year, but things can change in the spring.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: 2013 PCT - What kind of "snow year" is it? on 03/06/2013 19:03:46 MST Print View

Sierra Snow Trip Report


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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: 2013 PCT - What kind of "snow year" is it? on 03/06/2013 19:30:15 MST Print View

Right now is a bit early to make an accurate prediction. Generally the snow depth continues to increase until about March 20, and then it starts to decrease. For the Sierra Nevada south of Lake Tahoe, the snow is roughly 75% of an average year at this same time.

So, not knowing anything else about the rest of the season, I am planning my own stuff to go at least two weeks earlier than an average year. Back in the 2012 season, I went three or four weeks earlier than average.


USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
2013 PCT - What kind of "snow year" is it? on 03/06/2013 19:43:07 MST Print View

You can ask over on Highsierratopix also. Very knowledgable members there, good sources of info Sierra related. Many professionals there. Tell Eric the owner I sent you by.
From what I have personally witnessed around Lake Tahoe a few weeks ago by Fallen Leaf Lake/Mt Tallac, only a few feet there, close to home, about the same. A storm came thru last night, have not heard how much snow it left. Still a little early for final numbers, but getting close.

If you make it up north here, let me know, I can treat in the Bucks Lake Wilderness area or there abouts as the PCT is a few miles from home, but I'm away during the week.

Tommy Franzen
(Tomlike) - F

Locale: Pacific Wonderland
mountain snowpack on 03/07/2013 09:10:33 MST Print View

It's difficult to summarize the entire western US in terms of snow-pack because there's so much variation. Right now it's quite low in the Sierra but around average/above average in Oregon and Washington. See the link below the image. Check these maps again in six weeks and you'll have a much better idea


Mountain Snowpack Maps by Year

Edited by Tomlike on 03/07/2013 09:13:38 MST.