Questions and reports related to Sierra Nevada current and forecast conditions, as well as general precautions and safety information. Trail conditions, fire/smoke reports, mosquito reports, weather and snow conditions, stream crossing information, and more.
Electra wrote:I think this year will resemble 1995. That year, most everything above 10,500 was snow covered until mid to late august. Any pass above 11k on the muir trail had snow for miles, muir pass had snow down to just above sapphire until mid august. I recall guiding a cross country trip near black giant and langille peaks in northern kings in mid august and up on the flanks were 15 foot slabs and drifts in spots. Very impressive.
I agree with you. 95 was impressive especially with water content. I remember going in late August on a trip and could niot believe the amount of snow. Also that was the year my friend caught the biggest fish I have ever seen in the backcountry.
texan wrote:I think it depends where your at in the Sierras. The water content at Leavitt Lake on May 1st is around 86 inches. There are only two years that have a higher reading (82 and 95). Also Leavitt Lake usually has the most snow in the Sierras according to the snow sensor data. I know because I have been looking at it for years.
kpeter wrote:Thank you Texan, I will add Leavitt Lake to the watch list. I did not have it included since it is at 9600. Also, sadly, its data does not go back to 95 and 93.
Here is some of the data so people can make up their own minds.
Water content of Leavitt Lake on May 1 2011 86 2010 81 2006 101 1998 83
Charlotte Lake on May 1 2011 98 (only snow depth available) 2010 78 snow depth, 28 water content 2006 41 1998 41 1995 40 1993 36
Bishop Pass on May 1 2011 31 2010 38 2006 47 1998 42 1995 46 1993 30
Blackcap Basin on May 1 2011 43 2010 42 2006 52 1998 50 1995 69 1993 48
Crabtree Meadows on May 1 2011 23 2010 19 2006 25 1995 25 1993 19
Here is the data from Leavitt Lake I found. Also I was in the area in late August 1995 and 2006. There was a lot more snow in 1995. Also remember Mammoth Mtn had its longest season in 1995. It stayed opened until August 13th. Thanks for the info.
4/83 94 5/93 76 5/95 94 4/98 63 4/06 80
Also in 1995 its was a cool summer in the Sierras and that is why the snow lasted so long. To me the biggest winter was 94-95 depending on where you were at and second was 82-83. I was up at Piute Pass at the end of July in 83 as a teenager and the snow drifts were above our heads.
Most of those stations also record some temp data, even manual. If your hypothesis is that the spring melt of May/June affects the rate of melt, you should include those historical numbers as well. granted the remote sensors didn't activate until ~2005 where you could get a monthly low or high avg, there might be some problems with that.
Single points of reference in time don't mean much in the climate. Just saying.
I think you are putting too much faith in the sensor data. You say that there has been a lot of melting in April. I would instead look at the basin averages of "measured" snow survey data and percents of average. Although all the data is not yet in, the 5 basins (34 data points)San Joaquin drainage was 158% normal and May 1 192% normal. The 2 basin Tulare River drainage (15 data points) was 124% normal April 1 compared to 171% normal May 1. The 4 basin Sacramento River Basin (35 data points) was 156% normal April 1 and 216% normal May 1. This data does NOT tell me that a lot of melting has happened in April, compared to normal. Also look at the California-Nevada river guidance plots. Only 2 rivers are at or above monitor stage, none at flood stage. The melt has only begun. The Merced at Pohono is not that high yet.
After all the hoop-a-loo last spring about high snow I simply decided to go out and see for myself, and yes, there was a lot of snow end of June, but it did not stop me from going out. But I agree that playing with the data is fun! CDEC is good use of our tax dollars. Lets pray the fools do not cut its funding.
I brought up 1995 because that was a BIG year but melt below 10k was mostly complete throughout the range by mid-july like most 'normal' years but above 10k it lingered into August and anything above 10,500 stayed covered for most of August. From what little data i have seen and the weather patterns this winter, it seems similar. Deep base with heavy water content = late melt up high most likely. I have a short early june trip planned and a longer mid july trip planned and will report in detail what I find....
There might well be a big difference below and above 10000ft if the forecast weather pattern for the next two weeks continues through May - the nighttime freezing level looks to be consistently around 8000ft or so (with daytime highs in Yosemite Valley mid 70s - sounds beautiful). Just based on a quick look at the day/night temperature ranges (25-30 degrees appears typical), it seems that (subject to a bit of variation due to cloud cover, etc.) the daytime high in Yosemite Valley needs to get to ~85 before it is above freezing overnight at ~10000ft.
It does also seem from the CDEC data that the Yosemite-Tahoe region has received more snow and is slower to melt out so far this year, compared to further south. I note that Cedar Grove is already open (anyone been there yet?) and the Mineral King road is expect to be open for Memorial Day weekend: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/r ... itions.htm