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  1. #1

    Default A high snow year in the Sierras

    Im sure most people planning any backpacking trip in the Sierra stay vigilant on the conditions. But I want to highlight the fact that this year is officially a high snow year for the region. Backcountry travelers, backpackers & thru-hikers should pay heed and be prepared. Of course, being the last days of February, its still early and high country conditions, being dependent on so many variables, can & will change.

    However, currently most of the Sierras are at 130% - 150% of their yearly snowfall, using the April 1st metric ( which is the traditional end of season mark ).

    Heres a good link to a map, outlining the snowpack in regions, comparatively to historical averages. -



    http://cdec.water.ca.gov/reportapp/j...me=swccond.pdf


    *I started a thread for the same topic in the PCT forum, but felt obliged to share with JMT-ers as well. Hence the redundancy.* ⛰❄️✌🏼
    Last edited by Out of Mind; 02-28-2019 at 11:51.

  2. #2

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    Broken link, but I’m interested in your post for sure

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    Its only a few of last 10 yrs that it looks high by comparison . Some got used to that and expect snow free before mid july based on it..

    There is no actual average. It ranges almost min to almost max routinely. The standard deviation is wide. The average doesnt any reflect real snowpack.

    Higher....yeah.
    High...not so much. Its all normal range really over time. Apr1 ranges by +/-50% virtually all the time.

    Last 20 yrs

    Screenshot_20190228-082247.png
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 02-28-2019 at 10:28.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by chknfngrs View Post
    Broken link, but Im interested in your post for sure
    Link fixed:

    http://cdec.water.ca.gov/reportapp/j...me=swccond.pdf
    Last edited by Out of Mind; 02-28-2019 at 13:32.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Its only a few of last 10 yrs that it looks high by comparison . Some got used to that and expect snow free before mid july based on it..

    There is no actual average. It ranges almost min to almost max routinely. The standard deviation is wide. The average doesnt any reflect real snowpack.

    Higher....yeah.
    High...not so much. Its all normal range really over time. Apr1 ranges by +/-50% virtually all the time.

    Last 20 yrs

    Screenshot_20190228-082247.png
    It would appear, based on the charts youve shared, that the data for the time period showcased ( past 20 ) shows the majority of the years to be at or below the average.
    The average being the 100 % mark.
    The charts show 5-6 years out of the 20 yr span to be over the 100% mark, with the current year listed at roughly 130% & climbing.
    Unless I am misunderstanding the charts and/or the meaning of the term avg. ?
    Of course, I am trusting the scientific data here to be accurate (however risky the prospect of trusting the scientists/meteorologists). 🤣
    Last edited by Out of Mind; 02-28-2019 at 12:28.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Out of Mind View Post
    It would appear, based on the charts youve shared, that the data for the time period showcased ( past 20 ) shows the majority of the years to be at or below the average.
    The average being the 100 % mark.
    The charts show 5-6 years out of the 20 yr span to be over the 100% mark, with the current year listed at roughly 130% & climbing.
    Unless I am misunderstanding the charts and/or the meaning of the term avg. ?
    Of course, I am trusting the scientific data here to be accurate (however risky the prospect of trusting the scientists/meteorologists). 藍
    So, 30% are in range of current.

    And 1, 5%, is actually "average"

    Point is, average doest exist. Most are far above, or below it. Its all "normal variation". Someone enterprising could calculate standard deviation. Abnormal would be generally considered 2 standard deviations from mean, or about 2-3% of time in a normal distribution.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 02-28-2019 at 13:37.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Its only a few of last 10 yrs that it looks high by comparison . Some got used to that and expect snow free before mid july based on it..

    There is no actual average. It ranges almost min to almost max routinely. The standard deviation is wide. The average doesnt any reflect real snowpack.

    Higher....yeah.
    High...not so much. Its all normal range really over time. Apr1 ranges by +/-50% virtually all the time.

    Last 20 yrs

    Screenshot_20190228-082247.png
    Looks pretty high from that graph (especially if you remove 82-83).
    It's the second highest year on the graph at this point for central, and high for the other regions as well. But there's lots of time left

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hikingjim View Post
    Looks pretty high from that graph (especially if you remove 82-83).
    It's the second highest year on the graph at this point for central, and high for the other regions as well. But there's lots of time left
    Exactly.
    Snowfall in mountain ranges doesnt fall according to any governments statistical reporting plan.
    Snow conditions will be what they are when you get there.
    See the NOBO HOBOS photos for June 12, 2017 conditions.
    Wayne

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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    Exactly.
    Snowfall in mountain ranges doesnt fall according to any governments statistical reporting plan.
    Snow conditions will be what they are when you get there.
    See the NOBO HOBOS photos for June 12, 2017 conditions.
    Wayne
    Its a rare year there wouldnt be major coverage in mid june still. You can still ski then often. Anyone expecting clear trail then is a fool.

    Its typically late july to have passes clear, and forester may still hold snow.

    You cant count on snow free.....anytime in sierra.

    Aug 2 2014 dumped 2 ft on whitney and caused many hikers to not summit, and to bail off trail.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 02-28-2019 at 17:00.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Its only a few of last 10 yrs that it looks high by comparison . Some got used to that and expect snow free before mid july based on it..

    There is no actual average. It ranges almost min to almost max routinely. The standard deviation is wide. The average doesnt any reflect real snowpack.

    Higher....yeah.
    High...not so much. Its all normal range really over time. Apr1 ranges by +/-50% virtually all the time.

    Last 20 yrs

    Screenshot_20190228-082247.png
    If you want to draw your own chart with custom dates, here's the link:
    http://cdec.water.ca.gov/snowapp/swcchart.action

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    From the 3000-7000' we are in the normal zones for snow, However in the upper zones 7000+ we are above average. We are however above our rain averages which is nice. Unfortunately the idiots who control the water are already dumping more than they bring in. after speaking with several of the ranges in Sequia and Yosemite they are expecting the upper elevation trails to be open in late June/early July instead of Late May/ early June. That is a plus for those wanting lots of water sources for the JMT hikers and the rest of us who hike the High Sierra's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by garyp View Post
    That is a plus for those wanting lots of water sources for the JMT hikers and the rest of us who hike the High Sierra's.
    Never a water issue in sierra.
    In driest years....about 6 mi is longest "dry" stretch on jmt
    Technically, most could walk jmt without carrying water if they were dumb enough to.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

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    I think the point is to expect to encounter snow on the JMT this year. Those who have been on the JMT during the drought conditions, which was most years since 2011, might not be expecting to encounter snow, but it will be hanging around late this season. Mammoth Ski Area is expecting to stay open well into June, so higher elevations on the JMT will have snow much later than that.

    The other point is that it’s not anything to worry about or to change trip plans for, just be aware and be prepared. You may end up postholing a time or two.

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