CA Drought and 2014 hiking season
Display Avatars Sort By:
Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 01/15/2014 20:27:26 MST Print View

As always, Wunderground provides a great summary of the situation.

The fat lady didn't sing yet, but we're far enough along that some folks making plans for big CA hikes in 2014 ought to keep an eye on this. 99% of people who might be hiking in 2014 Sierra know this, but for the 1% who don't know, here is some basic info...

California receives the vast majority of its rainfall in the winter. The heart of the rainy season is November to March. October and April are shoulder seasons. Here's the data for San Francisco. Other locations in the state are variations on the same theme:

drought.1

The 2011-12, and the 2012-13 rainy seasons were not very wet. As a result, the snowpack in the Sierras was very poor. The following graph puts it into perspective. Neither 11-12 nor 12-13 were as dry as the record low snowpack in 76-77, but the past two winters achieved only ~50% of normal snowpack. Pink line shows the 12-13 season; green shows the 11-12 season.

drought.2

Here's a link to the current version of these same graphs (which includes 13-14 but drops 11-12).

If we're lucky the high pressure system that has been blocking the storms we normally receive will find a new parking place, and we'll finally see the arrival of winter. Maybe we'll reach the 50% of normal snowpack numbers that we had in the past two winters. Chances for something better than 50% of normal are rapidly diminishing.


If I were planning big trips, I'd think about five things.
1. Mosquitoes will not be a problem in August. They may peak by early or mid July. In a "normal" year, there are still swarms in the southern Sierra in late July to early August.
2. Fire season has the potential to be horrendous. That might mean closures. And it might mean crummy visibility. In a troublesome preview of what might be in store for us, there was an unprecedented wildfire in Big Sur a few weeks ago - in a normal world there should not be wildfires in Big Sur in December or January, that's just weird. Many (most?) CalFire stations close down for the winter, we just don't have wildfires this time of the year.
3. High passes will be snow free earlier in the season than is normal. "Normal" varies based on the pass, so there's no magic date. But if you look at the snowpack graphs you can see that in the past two years the snowpack at the measurement stations was down to 0% in mid-May instead of early-July.
4. Drinking water in the High Sierra (Mammoth to Cottonwood) will not be a problem. There are plenty of lakes and rivers. Small creeks will dry up earlier than usual, but lakes and rivers will be AOK as water sources.
5. If I were planning to hike in parts of the state without permanent alpine lakes or rivers, I'd get local info about the status of seasonal water sources.

Edited by drongobird on 01/15/2014 20:54:26 MST.

Kathleen B
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
CA Drought on 01/15/2014 20:42:01 MST Print View

Very helpful post. Thank you for putting it together. Here in north central Washington I haven't had to use my snowshoes yet, but the microspikes are getting a workout due to all the ice in places where there is usually lots of snow. Interesting winter...

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Pics on 01/15/2014 21:11:09 MST Print View

CA with and without snow

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Pics on 01/15/2014 21:11:44 MST Print View

Homer

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
no fun on 01/16/2014 19:53:04 MST Print View

This is really getting crazy. And no real rain in sight. My friends who are farming are looking at catastrophic losses

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: no fun on 01/16/2014 20:11:15 MST Print View

"Thank you for putting it together. Here in north central Washington I haven't had to use my snowshoes yet, but the microspikes are getting a workout due to all the ice in places where there is usually lots of snow."

+1

Horrible snow year here in Washington. A short day hike at 4500' felt like I was walking on a skating rink.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Pics on 01/16/2014 20:14:54 MST Print View

David,
Those pictures are sobering. I would suggest that PCT hikers leave early if this continues to avoid fire season which could be epic.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Meh on 01/16/2014 20:33:55 MST Print View

The drought is obviously a huge, huge problem. But I think it's way too early to start planning for August based on the weather in January. I did the PCT in 2009. The snowpack was well below average throughout the winter, but May and June turned out to be cold and wet (I think it was the wettest June in CA history iirc). So, the snowmelt was delayed and some new snowfall happened late. By the time I hit the Sierra, the snowpack was average or a bit above average according to locals.

Anyway, here's hoping for more rain/snow.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Potential for western drought 2014 on 01/16/2014 20:34:28 MST Print View

Brought up on the other website as well (BP). Looks like an abnormally dry January except for Colorado right now, plus the ID/MT/WY border area and around Salt Lake City (here's hoping spring showers are enough to reverse the trend)
Stream forecast Jan 2014

Link to current and archives as of 1/16/2014:

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/cgibin/sssf.pl

May need to take into account how a local ecosystem responds to one or 2 good rainstorms though.

ed: add

Edited by hknewman on 01/16/2014 20:41:31 MST.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 01/16/2014 21:40:21 MST Print View

There are low snow years, and then here is this year. Normally by this time we have had a few several day long deluges here in the Santa Cruz mountains, even if it end up being a low snow year. Just one of these would change that satellite image to normal looking. We have had zero of these this year. Hopefully we will get one or two in February.

The blackbirds in town started singing their spring mating song last week! Usually they start in February. Cats and Dogs living together! Mass hysteria!

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 01/16/2014 21:57:50 MST Print View

"I think it's way too early to start planning for August based on the weather in January."

Clearly somebody who has the option to wait until later to plan their weather-dependent hikes ought to wait. But sometimes that's not possible. For example, Jim and I got our airplane tickets for an Alps 2014 hike in December - because we fly on frequent flier miles and those tickets are very limited. Even in December we were very limited in what dates we could fly in the April-June timeframe. If overseas readers are making plans for a 2014 Sierra hike, they may well be choosing dates right now. If I were forced to choose now on timing for a Sierra trip, I'd absolutely consider the drought. And if somebody wants to place a bet on the intensity of the fire season, sign me up.

We've taken perhaps 50 backpacking trips in the High Sierra, and we are highly averse to mosquitoes, so we plan our trips around them. We have been pretty satisfied with this guidance:

- Average snowpack, mosquitoes are not a problem by Aug 15.
- Low snowpack, mosquitoes are not a problem by Aug 1.
- Very high snowpack, we wait until September.

We've already had two consecutive dry years. In 2013 I took a High Sierra hike in mid-July and had almost no mosquitoes. That would NOT be the case in a normal year.

The chances that we'll have a normal snowpack year are effectively zero now. We are normally at 50% of average maximum snowpack. And we're currently sitting at only 10% of what we normally have on Jan 16. The 10 day forecast is warm and dry. Record-breaking warm. We only have 10-14 weeks of rainy season left, so 10 days represents a good chunk of the possible recovery time.

W.R.T. fire season, the soil is already so dry due to two years of sub-normal rain, and the fuel on the ground is so dry, that as of right now there's actually a fire warning in effect. This is just completely abnormal, in a way that might be hard for folks who don't live in a Mediterranean climate to viscerally appreciate. The NWS forecast discussion as I write this says:
.FIRE WEATHER...PER REMOTE WEATHER SITES THERE ARE MANY SINGLE DIGIT
HUMIDITY REPORTS AND LIGHT OFFSHORE WINDS 5 TO 15 MPH OVER INTERIOR
MONTEREY AND SAN BENITO COUNTIES AS WELL AS OVER THE SOUTHERN SALINAS
VALLEY. CRITICALLY FIRE WEATHER BEHAVIOR INCLUDING DRY FUELS...LOW
HUMIDITIES AND LIGHT OFFSHORE WINDS PROMPTS A RED FLAG WARNING VALID
TIL NOON PST FRIDAY.

We are all, obviously, hoping for some sort of recovery. Unlike the mid-west and east, where rain is possible all year, we really don't have that much time left. I keep thinking, OK the 10-day forecast is for warm and sunny, but certainly winter will arrive on day 11. But I've been thinking that now for 8 weeks, and so far so bad.

Keeping my fingers crossed, and hoping that in two weeks we'll have a favorable update in this thread :)

Edited by drongobird on 01/16/2014 21:58:46 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 01/16/2014 22:57:40 MST Print View

Amy, the only way to make this rain happen is to bet against it.

--B.G.--

Jeremy B.
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 01/16/2014 23:27:57 MST Print View

I've been keeping on eye on some of the longer range models as covered here:
http://opensnow.com/dailysnow/tahoe

With the exception of the recent slight rain, the past several weeks have been suggesting no real changes within a two week range, which is about at their limits, even though there was an ever-just-out-of-range suggestion that the pattern might change beyond that time.

As of today's run it looks like that troublesome high pressure ridge might finally start to roll towards the Aleutians in about 10 days, giving some slight chance for rain before the month ends. The real hope will be that February and March are able to draw in a great deal of moisture, but so far we're tracking with '76-'77.

Meh.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 01/17/2014 11:18:47 MST Print View

I wonder what bpers stove backup plan is with all the hype the last year over improved efficiency of both alcohol and Esbit type stoves. I'm worried some are going to ignore warnings and bring one of those stoves regardless. Throw in the mix too, of woodstove users. I live in the Sierra, so I'm aware of conditions, cutting fuelwood too, you are always up to date on conditions.
Duane

Bily Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 01/17/2014 11:31:49 MST Print View

Los Angeles (CNN) -- California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday declared a drought emergency for the state, saying it is facing perhaps "the worst drought that California has ever seen since records (began) about 100 years ago."

The governor's announcement, made in San Francisco, came as a wildfire burned Friday with only 30% containment in 1,700 acres of foothills of Los Angeles County near Glendora. An illegal campfire apparently ignited the wildfire, and fire officials also cited drought conditions for contributing to the blaze.

In his declaration, the governor called for voluntary "20% conservation of our water use" statewide.

"It's important to wake all Californians to the serious matter of the drought and lack of rain," Brown told reporters. "We are in a unprecedented, serious situation that people should pause and reflect on how we're dependent on rain, Mother Nature and each other.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
CA Drought and 2014 Hiking Season on 01/17/2014 11:34:32 MST Print View

Here in Los Padres NF, the head ranger has already announced the imposition of Level III Fire Restrictions. The restrictions are said to be in place until the end of the 2014 fire season (maybe next Fall???). This is the earliest I've ever seen these restrictions go into effect. Usually they don't go into effect until July-ish.

Nonetheless, I have to admit the conditions probably warrant it. Many of the creeks/springs around here have only a slight trickle, if anything. Typically January would not be a time to have to worry about finding water anywhere in our area. Last year, and this year even more so, have been an unfortunate exception.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Trout Emergency on 01/17/2014 19:30:01 MST Print View

"Los Angeles (CNN) -- California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday declared a drought emergency for the state, saying it is facing perhaps "the worst drought that California has ever seen since records (began) about 100 years ago." "

When I head a story on NPR about this today I initially herd the gov declare a "Trout Emergency", some kind of Freudian miss-hear. I was thinking, "well, you don't hear that phrase much", but then I came to my senses. "Trout Emergency" does sound like a good name for a fishing-related cottage business.

On another note, I was enjoying driving today with my sun roof down. I haven't opened it in the months Nov-March since I moved here 14 years ago. Its not just the absence of rain - usually in the winter here (in the redwoods) everything is completely damp, fog in the morning, everything seeping, regardless of the rain situation. This has totally not been the case here. It feels like October, which I suppose it is in fact an extension.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Tool for comparing CA snowpack across years on 01/18/2014 17:10:16 MST Print View

Here is the nice CA.gov page where you can compare snowpack for different years.

If you hiked the PCT in 2009 (as Scott S's mentions above) you were there after a roughly 80% of normal winter. 2010 hiking season followed a fairly normal winter in the central and southern Sierra. 2011 followed a very wet winter.

snow-1

2011-12 and 2012-13 (and as of now 2013-14) are in a different category than the 2008-2009 dry year.

snow-2

Shaking the rain-sticks here in the Bay Area --Amy

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
dry on 01/20/2014 00:36:31 MST Print View

I can't believe how dry it's been this year. Boy did I pick the wrong winter to get back into cross country skiing. Hahaha

My only comment is on the fire danger. I know that dryness doesn't help, but I was talking to some Calfire guys not long ago and they were saying forest fires were much worse on summers that had lots of rain/ moisture in the winter preceding. They explained that although it seems like it would be opposite, the heavy rain winters cause so much growth of the brush that it makes the fires much larger and harder to control when they do finally start up in the summer. It kind of made sense when explained that way.

J J
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
Cliff Mass post on 01/20/2014 10:07:25 MST Print View

Cliff Mass is a professor up here in the PNW and has a popular weather blog. He posted about this last week, and it includes a couple additional figures like reservoir levels.

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2014/01/extreme-drought-in-california.html

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: dry California forest on 01/20/2014 11:01:05 MST Print View

There's never a bad time to spread fire panic.

if we have a dry hot summer, they say it's a drought, a dry tinder box ready to ignite at the slightest chipotle spicy fart.

if we have a wet winter, by So Cal exagerated standards that's 10 days of rain, they say that the rain will cause the shrubs and grasses to grow, making them a tinder box ready to ignite at the slightest chipotle spicy fart.

if lightning causes a fire, then it's organic, and natural and should let the forest/nature manage its own burn lifecycle, so that the manzanita berries can roast and release the seeds.

if an arsonist or dumb kids cause a fire, then all hikers and backpackers are not allowed a stove in the wilderness EVER, and denied access to the burn zone for a year or two. We always need a memorial plaque and name a highway after someone.

if the forest service and fire dept professionals do a controlled burn in the winter, and the fire gets out of control, and burns a forest, causes a few 100s millions of damage, roasts wildlife, pollutes the air quality... no one gets fired, no one is accountable. there is no report on ecological damage, backpackers are still not allowed to carry a stove and the burned area is closed off for rehabilitation for a few years.

I have a solution.
Dig a pipeline trench from the ocean up to the mountain ridges. With the design of hydrolic'ing, start with a 4 ft diameter pipe at sea level, and keep going smaller till it gets to be a garden hose at altitude. This eliminates the need for an uphill pump. The motion of the ocean will jet the pressure uphill to fill with sea water a plastic reservoir carefully hidden from disturbing a panorama.

when we get a fire happening, either manual, remote control, or some automatic fire sensor will open the spigot on the reservoir and soak the hillside.

Sure, nothing is perfect. You'll get salt water and jelly fish and sardine in the pipeline, and the mountain will smell fishy for a week, but the alternative is a forest fire that is 30% contained for 3 weeks. The squirrels and hawks will eat the fish. The rain will wash the sea salt, which is not that big of a deal because coastal mountains get daily salty sea mist, it's not going to affect the pH level that much, not as bad as a blazing fire with roasted owls, deer and squirrels.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 01/20/2014 11:21:38 MST Print View

I thought you were going to have a shuttle propelled by the ocean to get folks to the top. Like a ram pump that works off of slight fall in water to create pressure.
Duane

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Cliff Mass post on 01/21/2014 10:58:55 MST Print View

Here's hoping for a "March miracle" again....this is dire

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: dry California forest on 01/21/2014 12:54:21 MST Print View

"not as bad as a blazing fire with roasted owls, deer and squirrels."

Tell me more. Do you have a recipe for roasted owl?

--B.G.--

Brian Johns
(bcutlerj) - M

Locale: NorCal
Nasa's Take on Dry California on 01/21/2014 21:52:16 MST Print View

Snow pack 2013 compared to snowpack 2014. Pretty unbelievable - unless you've been living here.

NasaOnSnow

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Nasa's Take on Dry California on 01/21/2014 22:27:52 MST Print View

Didn't we just see this a week ago in this thread?

--B.G.--

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Nasa's Take on Dry California on 01/21/2014 22:33:35 MST Print View

We saw it on the other page which might as well be a separate thread.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: dry California forest on 01/22/2014 02:23:19 MST Print View

> I have a solution.
> Dig a pipeline trench from the ocean up to the mountain ridges. With the design of
> hydrolic'ing, start with a 4 ft diameter pipe at sea level, and keep going smaller
> till it gets to be a garden hose at altitude. This eliminates the need for an uphill
> pump.

Congratulations. You have just invented the Perpetual Energy Machine. Pity the Patent Office will reject it without further consideration.

Cheers

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: dry California forest on 01/22/2014 06:41:28 MST Print View

Doger: "The motion of the ocean will jet the pressure uphill to fill with sea water a plastic reservoir carefully hidden from disturbing a panorama."

Caffin: "Congratulations. You have just invented the Perpetual Energy Machine."


Wiki: Hydraulic Ram Pump

I'm not sure that Doger's idea is sound (friction and all that), but pretty sure hydraulic ram and wave motion pumps are real.

Edited by greg23 on 01/22/2014 08:34:11 MST.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Re: dry California forest on 01/22/2014 11:06:53 MST Print View

I've been wanting to do that on my property for years, but don't think I have enough fall across my acre. They can only do so much lift. I'll have to opt for a solar pump to pump water into a tank, to be released on the weekends to water the garden.
Duane

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Re: dry California forest on 01/22/2014 11:25:57 MST Print View

In California's 1800s history, the gold rush industry used a process that is now illegal. They find a creek stream that is a mile away from the actual hillside they want to hose down to loosen the gold from the mountain.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_mining

basically it's channeling a slow calm body of water into a thin pressure jet. Similar to those horrible water conservation bathroom needle stream showerhead.

My idea was to pipe upward the ocean water, which by pure coincidence is at... (wait for it...) sea level, starting with a wide pipe that thins out with distance, creating a skinny jet stream but with more energy behind it that pushes it upward.

then capture the skinny water jet at reservoir that fill up slowly over time, to be released during fire season.

also since waves and tide move in and out, the pipeline could benefit from a one-directional trapdoor flap, so it only has forward movement with no water drain back.

At this popular hiking trail (IH Canyon) in Mt B, there is a cabin on top of the hill that get water uphill from the stream at the bottom of the canyon through this harnessed pressure system.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: dry California forest on 01/22/2014 11:33:21 MST Print View

IIR, 40' or 50' is about all a ram pump can lift.

So you may be about 7,950' short....

Edited by greg23 on 01/22/2014 11:34:50 MST.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Re: Re: Re: dry California forest on 01/22/2014 11:54:31 MST Print View

:)

Edited by RogerDodger on 01/22/2014 11:55:05 MST.

James Reilly
(zippymorocco)

Locale: Montana
Closures on 01/22/2014 13:18:12 MST Print View

I'm starting April 18. I am curious if there are ever preemptive closures? Or are there just fire/stove bans?

It's crazy, I was hoping for low snow pack and never thought of the negative impact that has on the state.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: dry California forest on 01/22/2014 14:02:32 MST Print View

Hi Greg and Rodger and all

Yes, I know about hydraulic ram pumps, but the initial claim was 'This eliminates the need for an uphill pump'. A 'hydraulic ram pump' is still a pump.

Would a hydraulic ram pump get up far enough? Unlikely. 8000' of water pressure (to the top of the ranges) is about 3,600 psi. That's static: not counting friction.

Cheers

Brian Crain
(brcrain) - F

Locale: So Cal
Re: Closures on 01/22/2014 17:13:38 MST Print View

"It's crazy, I was hoping for low snow pack and never thought of the negative impact that has on the state."

Thanks James. At least we know who to blame now! ;)

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Closures on 01/22/2014 20:19:48 MST Print View

Some parks in California (like Mt Diablo) will shut down completely during extreme fire danger.

Parts of the PCT are still closed from recent fires (e.g. near Mt San Jacinto).

Best to check with PCTA for the latest news and trail closure forecasts.

-- Rex

Edited by Rex on 01/22/2014 20:20:23 MST.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
CA Snowpack still anemic on 01/31/2014 09:25:55 MST Print View

We finally had some precipitation here in California, but not enough to make much dent. And although the 10 day forecast includes some more dribs and drabs, there are no real storms coming soon. Still hoping for some redemption.

snowpack-1

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: CA Snowpack still anemic on 01/31/2014 09:42:06 MST Print View

on NPR this morning, they said a historic pattern of a heavy wet winter on the east coast, usually translates to a drought on the west coast.

I'm thinking along the lines of the railroads of 200 years ago, we need a water pipeline to siphon east coast flood water and route it to the west coast dry zones.

California produces 30% of the US food agriculture.

For those few days that it did rain in SoCal, I thought about capturing the water from the roof and rain gutter run-off into water barrels, for lawn and garden irrigation, but the Mrs does not support such initiatives.


by the way Mt B, San J, Big Bear, Pine Cove are reporting 4 to 6 inches about 6000' although they will melt by the time the sun comes out.

Edited by RogerDodger on 01/31/2014 10:09:14 MST.

James Reilly
(zippymorocco)

Locale: Montana
Hatfield on 01/31/2014 09:57:06 MST Print View

It's time to call in Charlie Hatfield.

Hatfield



Charles Hatfied, San Diego Rainmaker, Wiki link

Edited by zippymorocco on 01/31/2014 09:57:44 MST.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Hatfield on 01/31/2014 10:21:38 MST Print View

James,
That's very cool SoCal history. It's very interesting.
rainmaker --> massive floods.
becareful what you ask for. :)

something else of interest, along those lines of rain making:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_seeding

Edited by RogerDodger on 01/31/2014 10:25:19 MST.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 02/10/2014 13:45:34 MST Print View

Four or five more storms like the one this past week and we'll be in fat city! Southern Sierra is now at 26% of normal Feb 10 snowpack.

Mt Tamalpais, in Marin County got 23.51" of rain in the past five days. Woohoo!!

Dr Jeff Masters has a quick summary in today's WunderBlog post.

snow-3

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 02/11/2014 23:21:09 MST Print View

Snowfall in the Sierra was best in the tahoe-to-sonora section, and dropped off quickly south of that. So Desolation Carson-iceberg, Mokelumne, and Emeigrant wilderness areas did well and anything south not so much. Still quite skimpy compared to average.

Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
New Article on the issue on 02/18/2014 11:17:07 MST Print View

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/02/can-anybody-save-california-103544.html#.UwOia2JdUkI

and a new satellite image.
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=83124&eocn=home&eoci=iotd_grid

Edited by jleeb on 02/18/2014 15:28:56 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: New Article on the issue on 02/18/2014 18:02:41 MST Print View

"and a new satellite image."

Darn! It looks like the entire Great Western Divide is bare. Now THAT is depressing.

Troubled times......

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: New Article on the issue on 02/18/2014 18:09:24 MST Print View

If the Great Western Divide is bare, that will just make it easier on Milly's Foot Pass.

--B.G.--

. Kirby
(Kirby805) - F
Re: CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 02/26/2014 17:54:34 MST Print View

Rain and snow! woot

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 02/26/2014 20:52:36 MST Print View

Here in So. Cal. there's wet stuff falling from the sky!

My grandfather told me about how it used to do this when he was a kid but I never believed him.

I took my children out front to stand in it.

"Remember this day kids, this here is something special." says I.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 02/26/2014 22:12:31 MST Print View

A bunch of us were hiking in the dark here on Wednesday evening. We kept walking through deep rain puddles, but nobody wanted to complain about the water. We needed it.

--B.G.--

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 02/27/2014 00:13:13 MST Print View

This afternoon was the first time this winter where we got a nice hard rain pater on the roof, and I found it very relaxing. I realized that that is the usual effect it has on me in late December when the rain (usually) first starts. By the end of February I pretty much want it to stop before I go insane. Just shows how weird a year this has been.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 02/27/2014 08:37:47 MST Print View

I'm setting my sights on reaching 50% of normal snowpack before this wet season is over.
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/snowapp/swcchart.action

Percentage of average snowpack for given date date:

Northern California
Feb 26 - 10%
Feb 27 - 13%
Feb 28 - 14%
Mar 5 - 22%
Mar 10 - 20%

Central California
Feb 26 - 25%
Feb 27 - 28%
Feb 28 - 29%
Mar 5 - 39%
Mar 10 - 35%

Southern California
Feb 26 - 17%
Feb 27 - 20%
Feb 28 - 22%
Mar 5 - 36%
Mar 10 - 34%

This storm should last 3 or 4 more days, just like the good old days of Craig's Grandfather

[edited Mar 5 to add more data]

Edited by drongobird on 03/10/2014 08:32:59 MDT.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 02/27/2014 09:01:41 MST Print View

Some run off from the last storm a few weeks ago, per the raised water level in the creek running thru my property on the Plumas. With the thawed out ground now due to the warm weather, hopefully most of the rain will soak in.
Duane

Frank T
(random_walk) - F
*Fingers crossed* on 02/27/2014 09:20:28 MST Print View

Statement as of 3:32 AM PST on February 27, 2014

... Winter Storm Warning in effect from 1 am to 10 PM PST Friday...

* Snow accumulations friday: 4 to 8 inches below 7000 feet... 12 to
20 inches above 7000 feet... and up to 24 inches along the Sierra
crest.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
CA Drought and 2014 Hiking Season on 02/27/2014 09:57:13 MST Print View

Yesterday's storm gave us our first rainfall of any significance here on the Santa Barbara south coast. We got about 1.5- 2" overnight. That brings our seasonal rainfall total up to 2.5" which is about 15% of normal.

Parts of the SB/Ventura backcountry faired a little better, with some of the remote weather stations checking in with 2.5- 3" or more. The deep backcountry (Cuyama area, Mt Pinos, etc.) must've been in the rain shadow as these areas were mostly back down in the 0.5" range.

Data for all of the rain gauges can be found HERE. Click on a station to get the station name and various rainfall summary statistics (e.g., 12- hour, 24- hour, month, season, etc.).

The next round is supposed to move in tonight for us and linger through Saturday. Expecting a few inches along the coast with this next system, possibly up to 8" in the southern Los Padres backcountry. Hopefully that's enough to start to bring our local creeks back to life.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 03/10/2014 08:42:36 MDT Print View

And the 14 day forecast on Wunderground is for a chance of up to an inch of snow today followed by many days of sunny warm weather, with temps well above normal. Doesn't look good at all. We'll be lucky to be at 1/3rd of normal snowpack on April 1st (which is the average date of max snowpack).

http://weatherspark.com/#!dashboard;a=USA/CA/Truckee
http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=zmw:93262.1.99999
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/snowapp/swcchart.action


Snowpack Percent of normal for this date:

Northern California
Feb 26 - 10%
Feb 27 - 13%
Feb 28 - 14%
Mar 5 - 22%
Mar 10 - 20%
Mar 17 - 17%
Mar 22 - 15%
Mar 30 - 19%
Apr 3 - 25%
Apr 8 - 25%

Central California
Feb 26 - 25%
Feb 27 - 28%
Feb 28 - 29%
Mar 5 - 39%
Mar 10 - 35%
Mar 17 - 33%
Mar 22 - 30%
Mar 30 - 35%
Apr 3 - 39%
Apr 8 - 40%

Southern California
Feb 26 - 17%
Feb 27 - 20%
Feb 28 - 22%
Mar 5 - 36%
Mar 10 - 34%
Mar 17 - 30%
Mar 22 - 26%
Mar 30 - 28%
Apr 3 - 33%
Apr 8 - 31%

Edited by drongobird on 04/08/2014 13:38:27 MDT.

Sharon J.
(squark) - F

Locale: SF Bay area
Re: CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 04/01/2014 11:14:20 MDT Print View

"And the 14 day forecast on Wunderground is for a chance of up to an inch of snow today followed by many days of sunny warm weather, with temps well above normal. Doesn't look good at all. We'll be lucky to be at 1/3rd of normal snowpack on April 1st (which is the average date of max snowpack)."

Looks like you called it:CA snowpack April 1

23-38% of typical snowpack for this date.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: CA Drought and 2014 hiking season on 04/01/2014 11:50:06 MDT Print View

Now we have to translate the snowpack into what that means for early-season trails.

--B.G.--

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
snow on 04/01/2014 19:39:16 MDT Print View

one of the fellows that actually takes snow measurements in the Sierra posts on JMT facebook. He measured a couple of southern Sierra locations at 50-60% of normal last week. The average is just that, an average, it will be closer to normal in some places, and less in others.

Its still remarkably low however overall.

Edited by livingontheroad on 04/01/2014 19:39:59 MDT.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: snow on 04/01/2014 21:43:38 MDT Print View

I've been watching both the sensors and the manual measurements pretty closely as they get posted,(backcountry ski trip planning) and there is a clear trend toward higher percentages at higher altitudes. Anything low,by which I mean under 7000 feet in the northern (tahoe-yosemite) sierra and under maybe 8500-9000 feet around Whitney, is like 10-20% of average while higher elevations are 40, 50, even 60%. so we may have an oddball early summer with things clearing out fast lower down and then you'll hit a sudden increase in snow as you get higher. But the odds are pretty good that it will be an early melt-off overall, even though the long-range forecasts I've seen are showing some snow still to come in mid-april, which will at least slow down the melt if not build the snowpack.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
updated summary from Wunderground on the CA drought on 04/03/2014 15:55:48 MDT Print View

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian/comment.html?entrynum=261

Albert C.
(Albsthehiker) - F
Bump on 04/20/2014 15:42:28 MDT Print View

Bump, just to keep this valuable information at the top.

Does anyone have any updates about alcohol stoves along the JMT?

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
alky stoves on the JMT on 04/21/2014 09:25:44 MDT Print View

I was so confused last year...I imagine this year would be the same. The yahoo group and folks here all sounded the alarm about no stoves without on/off switches. Meaning no esbit, no alky.

When I actually GOT to the JMT, however, every single ranger I came across, from the permit office in yosemite to the rangers on the trail, every single ranger said they had never heard that stoves needed on/off switches. They unanimously said alky stoves were fine.

The printed signs along the trails all said "no open fires, stoves OK" and that's it.

I'm going to assume the confusion is going to continue and not sure how this year will be any different.

Jeff Sims
(jeffreytsims) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal
Stoves on 04/21/2014 09:37:34 MDT Print View

My experience last year was the same as Jennifer's. Every trip I asked directly if Alky/Esbit set ups were ok and every time I was told yes.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Stoves on 04/21/2014 09:49:53 MDT Print View

It seems like most of the examples of "rangers" saying no come from calls to the regular wilderness offices, though maybe I have that wrong. Maybe those guys are grumpier, or maybe they are somehow more motivated to interpret the vague regs conservatively. If you bring a stove snuffer you can at least make a very decent case for being in compliance if you meet a grumpy ranger actually in the wilderness! I have tried batting my eyelashes, but I find for me this has a negative effect - on both sexes of rangers. I'm sticking to canister this summer.

Paul Koenig
(adidasno21) - F

Locale: Midwest
Helpful ... ? on 04/21/2014 10:14:27 MDT Print View

hey guys, hopefully this is helpful to some, but might already be common knowledge. last week i came across this site:

http://www.nps.gov/seki/naturescience/fire-restrictions.htm

which is now showing as under construction when i try and visit it.
this should take you to a cache copy from google.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:PlsGQDcyIaMJ:www.nps.gov/seki/naturescience/fire-restrictions.htm+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

good luck.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Helpful ... ? on 04/21/2014 12:45:20 MDT Print View

Just last night I sent my inquiry to SEKI asking about any fire restrictions they might have this summer for various types of backpacker stove apparatus. So far, no reply.

I sent a similar inquiry to Yosemite a few days ago and got the reply that so far they had not made any decision for the summer.

--B.G.--

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: alky stoves on the JMT on 04/21/2014 12:51:13 MDT Print View

I've asked about this same thing at the Inyo National Forest ranger station in Bishop, CA. I got one story from the first person writing the permit for me, and when I asked for confirmation, I got a completely different and conflicting story from the second person who works ten feet away in the same office. The wilderness rangers out in the field are in less contact, so they are likely to have even more conflicting opinions.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
A play it safe alky stove on 04/21/2014 17:45:00 MDT Print View

I feel pretty comfortable discussing my Starlyte with backcountry rangers, as they are spill proof. About as safe as an alky stove can get.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: A play it safe alky stove on 04/21/2014 18:02:18 MDT Print View

Tom, although most backcountry rangers tend to be pretty low-key and practical, there are a few out that that are going to enforce federal regulations in any way that they see fit. If their national forest has issued a temporary order about certain kinds of stoves and what kind of controls need to be on them, then they might try to make an example out of you.

That's why I've been making inquiries to the various parks and forests to pin them down on any such restrictions. If I get any concrete replies, I will post them here.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove on 04/21/2014 18:18:09 MDT Print View

"Tom, although most backcountry rangers tend to be pretty low-key and practical, there are a few out that that are going to enforce federal regulations in any way that they see fit. If their national forest has issued a temporary order about certain kinds of stoves and what kind of controls need to be on them, then they might try to make an example out of you."

I know, but most of my limited encounters with backcountry rangers have been pleasant.
Only once did I have a run in with a genuine government issue pr!ck, and that was some 37 years ago. Even then, I emerged unscathed, but it sure cast a pall on the day.

I'll look forward to what beta you come up with, but will wonder if you are getting the scoop from people who actually get out in the field, or just the usual BS from front country fat a$$e$ who have never seen a TH and just read from the sheet.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove on 04/21/2014 18:19:42 MDT Print View

Bob, I think I may have come up with a solution:


switch

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove on 04/21/2014 18:34:50 MDT Print View

Tom, I hear what you are saying. That's why when one Inyo office permit issuer tells me something that I think may not be absolutely true, I ask for a second opinion. Then, once I have them all in agreement, I ask where that is laid out in black and white, at least if I think there may be some question. Once I get it in black and white, then sometimes I carry that with me in the field, just in the even of that same guy that you ran into 37 years ago. Gee, that same guy must be getting old by now.

I've watched some Yosemite backcountry rangers with great interest. One guy walked up to me and asked to see my permit. I showed him and he was on his way about twenty seconds later. He spotted an illegally pitched tent (right next to a lake and right on a pristine piece of meadow), so he was making his way over there. The ranger was packing a sidearm, so he was not to be fooled around with. Plus, he knew how to flush out the owner of said tent. He walked up to it and started pulling out the stakes! Immediately the owner stomped up and started giving the ranger a hard time, right up until he saw the sidearm. The owner just did not know when to give up, though. If he had immediately grabbed up his tent and started moving it back to a legal spot, the ranger might have let him go with a verbal warning. But, the owner just kept ragging on the ranger, so we watched the citation get written, and that is for a federal court.

--B.G.--

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove on 04/21/2014 18:36:44 MDT Print View

Marko, I like your thinking, but it needs to look like a traditional rotary valve control.

--B.G.--

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove on 04/21/2014 18:41:00 MDT Print View

Ah well...just as likely to get me cited for trying to be a smart ass.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove on 04/21/2014 19:42:48 MDT Print View

Marko, we are sure that you will be successful at everything you try to do.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove on 04/21/2014 20:06:18 MDT Print View

"That's why when one Inyo office permit issuer tells me something that I think may not be absolutely true, I ask for a second opinion. Then, once I have them all in agreement, I ask where that is laid out in black and white, at least if I think there may be some question. Once I get it in black and white, then sometimes I carry that with me in the field, just in the even of that same guy that you ran into 37 years ago. Gee, that same guy must be getting old by now."

Now that is what I call thorough. When you get this year's opinions consolidated, would you be willing to post the final version on BPL? That way those of it who find it useful can print it out and carry a copy as well. Seriously. But if you ever run into a ranger with a name tag that reads "Eric van Vliet", all bets are off. He'd probably write you up for misrepresenting government regulations. ;0)

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove on 04/21/2014 22:13:45 MDT Print View

No, keep asking until you get someone to give you the answer you want and then go with that

sort of like how you do with parents : )

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove on 04/23/2014 11:32:54 MDT Print View

I had asked about fire restrictions and how they would affect Esbit, alcohol, or butane backpacker stoves. The first response from SEKI has arrived:

"It is likely that we will have fire restriction this summer due to drought and high fire danger. We also have year-round fire restrictions in place in some areas (mostly at higher elevations where dead and downed wood is scarce). The stoves you mentioned are all okay to use even in areas with fire restrictions. However, wood-burning stoves are subject to the same restrictions as campfires."

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove@ BG on 04/23/2014 16:49:25 MDT Print View

"The first response from SEKI has arrived:"

Thanks for posting this, Bob. Very useful for trip planning. That means I can enjoy my coffee with a minimal weight penalty.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove@ BG on 04/23/2014 17:10:07 MDT Print View

Tom, I know that there are a few backpackers who intend to use wood fires. In the higher elevations of SEKI, I believe that wood campfires are generally banned. A wood-burning stove like a titanium Caldera Cone is classified the same as a campfire, since it burns up the one resource (wood twigs) that needs to decompose into the soil.

Now I'll look for that cup of coffee around the top of Shepherd's Pass.

--B.G.--

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove@ BG on 04/23/2014 17:46:37 MDT Print View

Presumably the same caldera cone with an alcohol stove would be ok though, correct? I'd like to cook some fish, and that is the main reason I might consider switching back to the caldera cone - the form factor and pot volume is a little better for that. I guess I'll wait until the other, no-doubt equivocating and conflicting replies come in before I decide. Thanks for the update.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove@ BG on 04/23/2014 17:52:49 MDT Print View

"In the higher elevations of SEKI, I believe that wood campfires are generally banned. A wood-burning stove like a titanium Caldera Cone is classified the same as a campfire, since it burns up the one resource (wood twigs) that needs to decompose into the soil."

Almost everywhere in Sequoia above 10,000' or so, with good reason, the exact one you mention. Unfortunately a lot of people don't pay much heed to the regs, which is really sad. They need to put a few more rangers out in the backcountry to bust some of those jerks, IMO.

"Now I'll look for that cup of coffee around the top of Shepherd's Pass."

Best enjoy it below the headwall or over by lake 11,78x' below Diamond Mesa. It is usually pretty windy at the actual pass.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A play it safe alky stove@ BG on 04/23/2014 19:25:25 MDT Print View

There were two dudes I went by up near Voglesang pass one evening, and they had decided to camp just a few feet away from the trail as well as a few feet from the sign informing them that there were no fires allowed beyond that point. It was a big sacrificial fire that at that moment was 4 or 5 feet high with a couple of "yule logs" on there, and a bunch more besides.


Good thing they obeyed the Regs though. :-(