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Snow and Water levels 2011

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Re: Snow and Water levels 2011

Postby texan » Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:24 pm

kpeter wrote:
oldranger wrote:Kpeter given your restrictions you should have figured out those alternatives on May 1 rather than now. Waiting in the hope of a hot spring kind of screws up your planning. Rather than being hung up on all the details of different years the May 1 snow data should have rang a bell that it was very likely going to be a late season. I know that rlown has been moaning for months that his planned late july trip was not likely going to work.


Of course you are right, Mike, as you usually are. I did have these options in my mind but someone in this thread optimistically pointed out the 2006 example and that gave me hope that things might improve. But I did let family and friends know that we might have to change plans. And now we do.

But the Bishop Pass example shows that my optimism was not completely unjustified. It was data like this that kept my false hopes alive:

The May 1 manual survey of water content at Bishop Pass
2011 48"
2006 53"
1998 48"

The June 8 mechanical water content at Bishop Pass
2011 42"
2006 26"
1998 43"

Final melt out at the mechanical station at Bishop Pass
2006 June 25
1998 July 19

I find looking at this stuff interesting given that I can't be doing what I would really like to do. But I think my posts are getting irritating to some, and since there probably is not much use in continuuing them now that we are getting trail reports in, I'll make this my last entry in this thread. Hopefully next post I will have some real trail information!

Hi Kepter,

I like your posts because I am a data junkie. I also live out of the state and plan at least one big 7-10 day trip to the Sierras every year. I have been going to the Sierras every year since 1980 and I like to see other peoples opinions. The data speaks for itself. Over the past 31 years I have been to the Sierras the top two snow years to me were 1982-1983 and 1994-1995. I think this year will probably be number three to me. I won't know for sure until I go on my trip in August. I have to see the conditions first before I make my final assessment. 'Thanks again for posting those reports. I really enjoyed them.


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Re: Snow and Water levels 2011

Postby exodus » Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:44 pm


Don't let the others get you down. This has been an awesome post! And for those of us that can't change our schedules, it's been good so we can be prepared to plan out destinations and equipment. A week can make a huge difference when it comes to snow melt as well. One week an entire basin can be frozen and the next it's not.

For those giving him a hard time, use the back button! No one is forcing you to read this. :D
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Re: Snow and Water levels 2011

Postby rlown » Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:49 pm

Not sure we're giving Kpeter a hard time. We all watch the sensors, for our chosen areas. My lakes are huge ice cubes. :( Nice to know what's happening up there. Sept will be great. July, not.

This wasn't possible before 95' at best; internet lookup that is..
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Re: Snow and Water levels 2011

Postby GunnyJC » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:11 pm

exodus wrote:Kpeter,

Don't let the others get you down. This has been an awesome post! And for those of us that can't change our schedules, it's been good so we can be prepared to plan out destinations and equipment. A week can make a huge difference when it comes to snow melt as well. One week an entire basin can be frozen and the next it's not....

I totally agree! For those of us far away with trip schedules locked into place I find this thread very informative. Much easier to pop in here and read the updates as I check over the forums vs. having to go to another website. Thanks a lot for your help and I for one hope you keep updating this thread. :thumbsup:
Semper Fi!
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Re: Snow and Water levels 2011

Postby texan » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:27 am

Lots of snow in the mountains. Please read latest from Yosemite's web page for June conditions below.

Rivers & Waterfalls: Yosemite, Vernal, Nevada, and Bridalveil Falls are flowing with relatively high spring flows. Snowpack is over 300% of average for early June.

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Re: Snow and Water levels 2011

Postby mammoth80 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:57 am

I hiked upper yosemite falls on Saturday - absolutely awesome (despite raining all day). I can't believe it's an "intermittent" fall. Looked like April, not June.

A friend told me that plows on the Tioga road actually met last week, but there is still a lot of clearing to do.
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Re: Snow and Water levels 2011

Postby Mike M. » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:27 pm

From today's Fresno Bee:

http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/06/08/242 ... ittle.html

Despite large snowpack, little danger of floods
Posted at 11:13 PM on Wednesday, Jun. 08, 2011
By Mark Grossi / The Fresno Bee
The Sierra snowpack is nearly four times its normal size for June, and the big melt will start soon. But don't imagine a terrifying wall of water on the Fourth of July. This is no disaster movie.
Supersized snowpacks don't melt all at once, though there might be some flooding if summer heat arrives quickly.
And the San Joaquin Valley has a cure for flood threats at this time of year – agriculture. Millions of farmland acres wait for irrigation water. Dam tenders soon will funnel billions of gallons of snowmelt to farm fields.
The snowpack this year ranks as the fourth largest in the last half century. If the melt had peaked last month when irrigation demand was low, there might have been big flood damage, water managers say. But not now.
"The slower warm-up is definitely to our advantage," said Kevin Richardson, Army Corps of Engineers water manager for Pine Flat Reservoir. "The demand for water is going up at this time of year."
The mountains east of Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park are still full of snow as seen on Wednesday, June 8.
Water managers have released water to lower the levels of the two biggest reservoirs east of Fresno. Pine Flat on the Kings River is less than three-quarters full. The smaller Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin is only about half full.
Like chessmasters, water managers are making moves to stay ahead of nature. In the coming weeks, they will balance the inflow of snow runoff and outflow for irrigation demand. The idea is to cover all the farm needs and end the irrigation season with a full reservoir.
More than 900,000 acre-feet of snowmelt already has come down the San Joaquin River in April and May, said Michael Jackson, area manager of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, owner and operator of Friant Dam.
An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons of water – a 12- to 18-month supply for an average Valley family.
Hydrologists estimate more than 1 million acre-feet of water is still on ice, waiting to melt into the San Joaquin over the next two months.
Along the east side of the Valley, 15,000 growers are expected to buy more than 1 million acre-feet of water this year, according to the bureau. A similar scenario will be played out among growers buying water from the Kings River.
"As long as we don't get something like 15 straight days of 100-degree weather right away, we shouldn't have a problem," said Jackson.
Sierra snowpacks must absorb a lot of heat to begin melting in spring, hydrologists say. Sometimes called "Sierra cement," the snow has packed down hard over time, like a vast lump of frozen ice cream, and resists melting.
The night-time temperature must remain above 32 degrees – water freezes at that temperature – for many days before the snowpack begins melting steadily, hydrologists say.
This week, the temperature was still dropping into the 20s at White Wolf, which is 8,000 feet in elevation in Yosemite National Park.
The last time widespread flooding plagued the Valley was in 2006 when Millerton Lake rose quickly during a stormy April. Officials were forced to release water from the dam, down the river and into swollen flood bypass channels.
Flood releases from the Kings River also were added to the flow, because the Kings has no natural outlet to the Pacific Ocean. For a time, parts of Firebaugh – which is next to the river – were under water, and fields were inundated throughout the region.
"That was a tough year," Jackson said. "This year isn't like that. This is all about a big snowpack melting later in the year."
In the high Sierra, the state's chief snow surveyor, Frank Gehrke, has been getting a firsthand look at that snowpack, checking out snow measurement devices in places such as Yosemite.
He said a few warm days won't bring this monster snowpack down quickly. It probably will continue melting through the summer, he said.
The snowfall early this week slowed things even more.
"We had our record snowpack in 1983, but we didn't have a big snowstorm in June that year," he said. "This is an unusual year. It gets people shaking their heads."

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Re: Snow and Water levels 2011

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:05 pm

The Fresno Bee article is about major flooding on the main stem rivers in the central valley. One reason for the lack of major flooding is that the reservoirs have space to take the floodwaters. There is a flood watch out right now for flooding this weekend, particularly for the Merced River in Yosemite. Remember that we who backpack deal with uncontrolled streams, those ABOVE dams. There is a chance that Yosemite Valley will flood to the point of having to close roads by next week. That is partly a local drainage problem, however, it will impact backpackers if it happens.
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Re: Snow and Water levels 2011

Postby mokelumnekid » Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:29 pm

I was on Ebbetts Pass- Hwy. 4- on Tuesday (June 7) en route to kayaking the East Fork Carson. On the way I stopped to see how the family cabin was holding up in Hermit Valley. See pics of snow at the 7,000 ft level and views of the high country there (where the Mok crosses Hwy 4 in Hermit Valley) here:


I was pretty surprised! Kinney Lakes are completely frozen over still- or at least snow covered.
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Re: Snow and Water levels 2011

Postby Ikan Mas » Sat Jun 11, 2011 7:36 am

For a couple of years in the 2000's I would take the scouts prepping for the summer's 50-miler on a 10-mile hike on the PCT from Ebbetts Pass to Raymond Lake on the weekend after the 4th of July. Good hike and a chance to get some altitude for the boys before we headed off for the real hike in August. Also a good test, as a few boys decided on this trip that they were not ready for the 50. Both times we did the hike, we only had to cross a very small patch of snow along the way. With your report, I suspect the trail to Raymond will be much snowier come early July. Thanks for the update.
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