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Water content of snow 198% of normal

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Water content of snow 198% of normal

Postby hikerduane » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:28 pm

According to the news about the first snow survey of the season, water content is 198% of normal for this time of year. We'll see if it lasts, or a dry Spring. I'll make plans for the usual late July-early August trip.
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Re: Water content of snow 198% of normal

Postby rlown » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:44 pm

yeah.. looking at the Tioga Entry station data on cdec. 109". too bad the camera isn't working up there. It would have been impressive to see.

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Re: Water content of snow 198% of normal

Postby Hetchy » Sat Jan 08, 2011 11:29 pm

The thru hiker message boards are gonna erupt soon with frantic posts about how nobody will make it through the Sierra this year on the PCT.
It happens every year. Snow reports come out and people panic.
It's funny cause for a hiker leaving the Mexican Border in Late april they can expect to reach Kennedy Meadows (South) some 700 PCT trail miles later in early June.
What happens then is they wait for the "magic day" when it is suddenly declared safe to enter the Sierra. It used to be called "Ray Day" after the thru hiking guru Ray Jardine. June 15th was "Ray Day".
Now there is a calculation made based on the depth of snow on the Big Horn Plateu to achieve "Kennedy Meadows Day" The reality is hikers stack up at the kennedy meadows store for a few days, eating Ben and Jerry's Icecream and cleaning out the little store's supply of Beer before hauling off into the Sierra anyways regardless of snow.
Anyhow here is a sample of the "kennedy Meadows Day" table. It is basically a recommendation that thru hikers use although some take it very serious. The issue we have is we need to cross the Sierra early enough in the season to leave time to finish up the PCT in Canada before winter closes in up there.
The theory is to predict the earliest optimum day to enter the Sierra northbound and encounter the least amount of resistance from snow.
I left the formula out so you math buffs could have a puzzle as to how they come up with the day.
Year-----Big Horn Plateau snow depth inches(April)--------Calculated day to leave Kennedy Meadows
2000--------------56-------------June 17
2001--------------37------------ June 12
2002--------------65-------------June 20
2003--------------49-------------June 15
2004------------- 41-------------June 13
2005-------------90.1-----------June 27
2006--------------53----------- June 17
2007--------------20------------June 7
2008--------------65------------June 20
2009--------------59.3---------June 18

So.. whats the formula? :-k
I entered June 3rd in 2009 and there was plenty of snow. Forrester Pass, Mt Whitney, Kearsarge, Glenn, Pinchot, Muir, Mather, Selden and Silver were all snow covered for a few miles before on their south facing slopes to several miles after on the north sides. Finally when I reached Donahue pass the snow was merely rotted and spotty. I turned out to be easier for me to just climb the passes in the morning when the snow was crusted and descend the north slopes before afternoon postholing began. It worked until Donahue.
Anyhow I saw this record snowfall post and thought about "Kennedy Meadows Day" and my thru hiker brothers and sisters sitting on the front porch of KM eating icecream and trying to figure out the proper way to hold their shiny new iceaxes while watching someone try and stuff a bearvault 500 into a UL pack while waiting for the snow to melt. :D

Answer below vvv

Kennedy Meadows Day= June 1 + April snow depth (in.) at Bighorn Plateau divided by 3.5
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Re: Water content of snow 198% of normal

Postby ERIC » Sun Jan 09, 2011 1:07 am

The first survey of the year wasn't really a survey. It was more of a sample. I believe it covered Tahoe only.

The first official survey of the Cooperative Snow Survey state-wide wont be until the end of this month, thru beginning of Feb. In terms of forecasting for the season, great outlook that you guys are approaching it with an "cautious eye" rather than calling it a done deal (like many unfortunately do) as we still could have a year like 1997 where we were hammered early on through December, and then didn't get jack squat the remainder of the winter, the white stuff melted early and it ended up being a below average water year.

In the articles we read, or have read the past month or so, better to key in on Frank Gehrke's quotes, rather an Mark Cowin's. The season's early yet. Gehrke gets it, because he's in the trenches, and estimating water years is his gig. Cowin...mostly a pen pusher. :)
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