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People are planning...and asking questions!

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People are planning...and asking questions!

Postby balzaccom » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:21 am

We've had a ton of inquiries on our website about two major topics: routes and weather. ANd often, the two topics (topix!) are linked. It's great to see so many folks getting ready to get up into the SIerra...but it's also a bit discomfitting to see them ask for specific information about snow levels and weather in June or July...

I thought I would just post this here so that you could all join the chorus: while it looks like a low snow year right now, the weather between today and Memorial Day will determine how much snow, more or less, there is in the SIerra and when the high passes will open.

And if it doesn't snow at all before the end of May, it can still snow in June...even down to 5,000, as is evidenced by this photo near Hetch-hetchy in June of 2011.

Image

So go ahead and plan your trips--and be preparing to change your itinerary because of snow levels, high creeks due to snow melt, or inclement weather in the early summer!
Balzaccom

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Re: People are planning...and asking questions!

Postby rlown » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:30 am

I agree completely. I've always thought part of planning is planning for the worst and aborting if it's not warranted in the first place (the weather angle). We have great weather forecasting nowadays. Use the data everyone.

Except Rogue.. Do what you've gotta do. :D

On a personal note: Every time i plan a trip on Memorial day, it's snowed on me. No one should ask what the weather will be 2 months in advance. It is what it is and then you decide.
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Re: People are planning...and asking questions!

Postby schmalz » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:30 am

"while it looks like a low snow year right now, the weather between today and Memorial Day will determine how much snow, more or less, there is in the SIerra and when the high passes will open."

Can you explain this in some more detail? Isn't snowpack generally something that is relative to the sum of the entire season's snowfall? As we have increasingly warmer temperatures due to climate change, what is the logic that there will be more snowfall that sticks in the spring than in the winter?
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Re: People are planning...and asking questions!

Postby markskor » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:56 am

balzaccom wrote:So go ahead and plan your trips--and be preparing to change your itinerary because of snow levels, high creeks due to snow melt, or inclement weather in the early summer!


Just wanted to stress again about trip preparation. Before venturing forth into the back-country early season, make sure your gear will handle snow as well as freezing temps. With this advent of the "UL gear mentality" today, too many go out with tarps and not-adequate sleeping bags, betting against inclement weather.
IMHO, this is just asking for disaster. Better to carry a few more pounds of gear than shiver all night...or worse.

On another note, talking with my weather guru -
He mentioned that the two-month, stationary high over Greenland (the same type system that was in place and responsible for last year's lack of storms), has just recently broken down. He says watch out...every week in the foreseeable future should bring a series of storms across the Sierra. [-o<
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Re: People are planning...and asking questions!

Postby paul » Sun Mar 17, 2013 2:46 pm

Schmalz - what happens in the spring has a big impact on the snowpack and how the remains of that snowpack affect summer hikers. Firstly because March is often a big month for snowfall, and early april as well. So how much snow falls in the spring makes a big difference. Also, a warm, dry spring means a fast and early melt, while a cool and snowy spring means the melt doesn't really begin until mid-may or so. So total snowfall is only one aspect of what determines how much snow is still on the ground come summer. Thus, even if you could predict what the total snowfall will be, you would not be able to predict what the snowpack depth will be at any one point.
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Re: People are planning...and asking questions!

Postby oldranger » Sun Mar 17, 2013 3:58 pm

As the previous posts say or at least imply, be prepared!
MARK.jpg
Grungy old Fart, Saturday, Memorial Day Weekend 2012, dry year


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Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: People are planning...and asking questions!

Postby markskor » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:02 pm

Who is this great looking, well-prepared, smiling hiker...Must be some sort of Sierra idol!
Actually the snow is much deeper than it looks... as am standing on Mike's shoulders.
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Re: People are planning...and asking questions!

Postby schmalz » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:36 pm

paul wrote:Schmalz - what happens in the spring has a big impact on the snowpack and how the remains of that snowpack affect summer hikers. Firstly because March is often a big month for snowfall, and early april as well. So how much snow falls in the spring makes a big difference. Also, a warm, dry spring means a fast and early melt, while a cool and snowy spring means the melt doesn't really begin until mid-may or so. So total snowfall is only one aspect of what determines how much snow is still on the ground come summer. Thus, even if you could predict what the total snowfall will be, you would not be able to predict what the snowpack depth will be at any one point.


Yeah, I hear that. We are already halfway through March though and the current forecast isn't incredibly stormy. I think it's pretty safe to assume at this point that the season will lean towards being dry, but perhaps I'm being naive.
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Re: People are planning...and asking questions!

Postby tim » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:58 pm

rlown wrote:On a personal note: Every time i plan a trip on Memorial day, it's snowed on me. No one should ask what the weather will be 2 months in advance. It is what it is and then you decide.

Indeed. We've been in Yosemite over Memorial Day weekend the last two years. Both times in a blizzard. Its completely independent of whether the winter has been wet or dry.

Memorial Day 2011.jpg
Memorial Day 2011

Memorial Day weekend 2012.jpg
Saturday of Memorial Day weekend 2012
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Re: People are planning...and asking questions!

Postby balzaccom » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:06 pm

schmalz wrote:
paul wrote:Schmalz - what happens in the spring has a big impact on the snowpack and how the remains of that snowpack affect summer hikers. Firstly because March is often a big month for snowfall, and early april as well. So how much snow falls in the spring makes a big difference. Also, a warm, dry spring means a fast and early melt, while a cool and snowy spring means the melt doesn't really begin until mid-may or so. So total snowfall is only one aspect of what determines how much snow is still on the ground come summer. Thus, even if you could predict what the total snowfall will be, you would not be able to predict what the snowpack depth will be at any one point.


Yeah, I hear that. We are already halfway through March though and the current forecast isn't incredibly stormy. I think it's pretty safe to assume at this point that the season will lean towards being dry, but perhaps I'm being naive.



Leaning towards being dry doesn't mean that you can start hiking in late May the way you might hike in late June most years. And you should plan for all kinds of conditions. That's all we're saying.
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Re: People are planning...and asking questions!

Postby Bandito » Sun Mar 31, 2013 2:29 am

I know what it feels like to get the spring backpacking itch but I learned my lesson a few years ago on memorial day weekend. Hail sucks when you're sleeping in a bivy sack and we woke up with nearly an inch of snow...

My suggestion is to go to Big Sur in the spring.
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Re: People are planning...and asking questions!

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:17 am

I learned how cold it can be when it was in the teens and snowing on me with 40mph winds last season in early June. All it really taught me is I might have to go into survival mode sometimes when I am in the Sierra. :D
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