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Knowing where Snow is in the Sierra Nevada

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Knowing where Snow is in the Sierra Nevada

Postby SSSdave » Sun May 20, 2012 11:12 am

Was supposed to be on a road trip about 200 miles to the north to view the eclipse today, but the other person caught a head cold, didn't feel like spending the $90 on gas all by myself, and have a 6 day trip up to Del Norte County redwoods over the holiday to prepare for anyway.

Since we are just a week away from the Memorial Day weekend, some members will likely be visiting the Sierra Nevada making plans for hiking and backpacking. One questions will be where can one hike without getting into snow? Webcams in some areas provide useful looks at what things look like but there are vast areas beyond that are unknowns. An enhancement of today's, 5/20/2012 1km satellite view of the Sierra Nevada. Yes that white stuff is mostly snow with grayer areas either increasingly scattered snow, snow in forest areas, or bare granite. The snowy areas are however the bright white. So how does one tell geographically what one is looking at? Well today I loaded an information feature onto my Tips, Tools, Information website sub page to assist that task. Open up this link in another browser window:

http://www.davidsenesac.com/Information ... ation.html

Select the "Sierra Nevada Snow Cover May 18, 2008" link on that page to compare to today's satellite image below:

I know there are some other savvy maps folks here so a bit of a challenge going north to south.

Image

Notice how the Crystal Range in Desolation Wilderness east of Tahoe is strongly bright white? The small dark U region is of course the lower elevation Rubicon River areas.

Notice how some areas about Carson Pass still have quite a bit of snow? OF course thereabouts one can also see that snow in todays Kirkwood Ski resort live webcam:

http://summer.kirkwood.com/site/mountain/webcam

And how the big peaks about Ebbetts Pass just have snow atop the peaks while the pass is melted out?

Further south in the Tuolumne basin is where significant snows begin. Note how there is a solid band of snow still across Sonora Pass?

Can you see how brightly the Cathedral Range and Buena Vista Crests are standing out? And how the dark area just north is the Lyle Fork of the Tuolumne River while the are to the south is the Merced River? And how the Ritter Range also stands out with a little bit of white atop San Joaquin Ridge further east across the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River canyon? Now see that one round bright white spot? Mammoth Mountain of course!

Across the dark middle fork gap is the Fish Creek basin with white Sierra Crest areas east and the Silver Divide south. Two of us have a 9-day backpack there in about 60 days into the Minnow Creek area.

Then another dark gap of Mono Creek. We can see there is NO snow atop Bear Ridge but snows all about the big peaks forming the south areas of the creek with Bear Creek in the next drainage.

Notice how due east across the Owens Valley, the White Mountains have mostly melted out that I also just read on a summitpost.com post. They also noted the road to the Patriach Grove is accessible with 4WD.

Next we can see the dark canyons of the South Fork of the San Joaquin and Evolution Valley with white all around. Le Conte Divide is of course mostly still snow covered. A wee bit of white remains way west at Kaiser Peak, Kaiser Pass, and atop the Dinkey Lakes peaks.

Then another dark gap of the Kings River with Monarch Divide a horizontal white line across. We can even make out the slit of Enchanted Gorge next to Black Divide.

Further south we can see quite a lot of snow stop the Tablelands and into the Great Western Divide, and across the Kings Kern Divide the main Whitney crest areas. But not much further south about the Cottonwood Pass areas, snow seems to be melted out.



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Re: Knowing where Snow is in the Sierra Nevada

Postby Hobbes » Mon May 21, 2012 2:10 pm

SSSdave wrote:Further south we can see quite a lot of snow stop the Tablelands and into the Great Western Divide, and across the Kings Kern Divide the main Whitney crest areas. But not much further south about the Cottonwood Pass areas, snow seems to be melted out.


That is quite an analysis. I think a consensus is forming that Horseshoe is the place to be this Memorial weekend. Perhaps a HST convention? LOL

I'm not going up until the next week in June, so I'm looking forward to hearing about conditions. My initial plan is to loop from OV to Symmes, but if the snow/ice is still too tough over Forester & Shepherd (notwithstanding initial PCTers establishing a path), I may have to fall back to HM. If that happens, I'd like to hear about either/both Army & Crabtree pass(es).
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Re: Knowing where Snow is in the Sierra Nevada

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon May 21, 2012 6:38 pm

The weather report shows possibilty of snow above 7000 feet on the wet (west) side of the Sierra for Sat-Sun and better weather on Monday. It would not surprise me if they temporarily closed Tioga Pass over the weekend. Actually a little dusting of snow might be very pretty.
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Re: Knowing where Snow is in the Sierra Nevada

Postby SSSdave » Mon May 21, 2012 8:57 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:The weather report shows possibilty of snow above 7000 feet on the wet (west) side of the Sierra for Sat-Sun and better weather on Monday. It would not surprise me if they temporarily closed Tioga Pass over the weekend. Actually a little dusting of snow might be very pretty.


Yeah I noticed a big trough setting up along the West Coast in the long range so not surprising they are increasingly painting a possible foul holiday. Back in my young days Memorial Day weekend weather was often optimisticly forecast as chance of snow showers. And then several years it snowed off and on all weekend above 6k, especially at night. Chased tons of folks into motels each time haha

Me I'm going to be up in Del Norte County redwood forests where diffuse light conditions of light showers and clouds and fog is just what I've ordered for dinner.
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Re: Knowing where Snow is in the Sierra Nevada

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue May 22, 2012 12:43 am

I'm heading for Cedar Grove and Lodgepole to drop of packes for resupply. So much for riding doorless and topless in the Jeep!
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