Sierra Nevada current snow levels

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.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Addict
Posts: 2829
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Silicon Valley
Contact:

Sierra Nevada current snow levels

Post by SSSdave » Mon May 07, 2018 8:10 am

Have started my 2018 summer backpack trip planning so looked at the following site to assess snow levels. CDEC page paths year to year seem to regularly change. Note it is now May and % of avg is against April 1 data that is always near peak. Thus does not represent May 1 averages current conditions are for. In any case the snow pack even after the big March storms was much below average for elevations below 8k because of the major wet warm storm late in March that melted lower elevation snow. Above about 9.5k snow levels were closer to average. Thus one will be able to plan trips earlier for mid and lower elevation destinations without having snow issues while higher areas will be open and dry at near normal dates. Since many of the below levels are a week or two old, most of the low depth areas have already melted out since.

Am not one of those here that choose to hike in summer snows and rather target periods after landscapes dry out enough so vegetation greenery and wildflowers are best. Since am retired now can select mid week start dates where quotas are least affected and if need be let a day slide by to start just while just getting a walk up.

http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow/COURSES



Num.... Name....Elev....Date....Depth"....Water Content"....Density"....April 1 Average....%Avg

Image

Image








User avatar
Dwwd
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:24 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Sierra Nevada current snow levels

Post by Dwwd » Tue May 08, 2018 6:00 pm

Dave, do you understand this table? BlackCap basin #223 shows depth of snow=48" and water content=25" on 25-April. Yet if you query BCB @ http://cdec.water.ca.gov/dynamicapp/Que ... 2018+17:39 the sensor is not functioning w.r.t web requests. Believe in data, - - - but verify. Do you have a alternative source link for the Blackcap data?

User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Addict
Posts: 2829
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Silicon Valley
Contact:

Re: Sierra Nevada current snow levels

Post by SSSdave » Wed May 09, 2018 9:22 am

http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/snow_model/i ... Nevada.jpg

This is a new satellite image resource one can get current higher resolution images of the Sierra Nevada after zooming in than ever before. Note some days images are not as sharp as others and some days clouds block surface areas so use the day changing tool at page bottom to go back in dates.

https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/?p ... 9598581422

Of course this does not provide snow depth and pack water content however by correlating snow with topographic elevations and exposures one can glean information including how quickly snow seems to be melting. For instance, I can see the May 9 snowline below Blackcap Basin is about 9.0k about the North Fork of the Kings River while on April 25 it was about 8.0k.

I can also see my first tentative overnight backpack idea to Grass Lake in Desolation is already at the snow line so by month end ought be snow free for a visit. And my mid June tentative idea from Shingle Springs near Cherry Valley Reservoir to Lord Meadow and Boundary Lake shows the trailhead long dry with snow level up at 7.8k near Styx Pass and Kibbie Lake areas at 6.6k melted out. Thus is obvious all the areas I hope to visit will be fine by intended period.

Am also likely to drive up to Sonora Pass later today for a couple days of backcountry skiing and can see one of the Virginia Creek lakes is partly melted out.

User avatar
Ultrajen
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 2:10 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Sierra Nevada current snow levels

Post by Ultrajen » Wed May 09, 2018 1:20 pm

@ssdave so helpful!

User avatar
wildhiker
Topix Expert
Posts: 573
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:44 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Palo Alto, CA

Re: Sierra Nevada current snow levels

Post by wildhiker » Wed May 09, 2018 3:08 pm

Dwwd questioned the accuracy of the snow depth table posted by SSSdave because, for example,
BlackCap basin #223 shows depth of snow=48" and water content=25" on 25-April. Yet if you query BCB @ http://cdec.water.ca.gov/dynamicapp/Que ... 2018+17:39 the sensor is not functioning w.r.t web requests
The answer is that the table posted by SSSdave shows only the results of manual measurements. That's right, the ones where they ski or snowmobile or helicopter (or maybe walk in a dry year) into a specific snow course site and follow a specific sampling protocol to manually measure the snow pack depth and water content. That's why you see specific dates attached to the measurements in that table. At the same time, many of the snow course sites also have an automated snow pillow measuring system that "phones in" data at regular intervals. Those often are broken or give wild values due to, for example, a big fat branch falling onto the snow pillow.

-Phil

User avatar
Dwwd
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:24 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Sierra Nevada current snow levels

Post by Dwwd » Wed May 09, 2018 9:00 pm

Phil and SSSDave. Great info. Knowing the table is a manual measurement explains the less than recent dates. Also that NASA world view site was very interesting.

User avatar
michaelzim
Topix Novice
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat May 31, 2014 7:09 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Sierra Nevada current snow levels

Post by michaelzim » Sun May 13, 2018 10:10 am

I use a similar method to tell where snow levels might be for potential May camping, etc. or before the mosquitoes get going!

I go to a specific CDEC site that updates daily (and appears reliable over the years) in the region I am wanting to go...so here I have the daily data for "Kaiser Point" (as an indicator for Lake Edison area):
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/jspplot/jspPlo ... ies=cdec01

Sorry that was meant to be a link, but I don't see where the button is to insert that?! However it shows Kaiser Point and you can put the number of days back you want to see in the box and request the end date (today).

Well, I tried to put an image in using an image saving tool and came up with zero here - but if you go to the link above you can put in the last 30 days and see that Kaiser Point now has zero snow level, but was 3" on May 9th.

Now I know that Kaiser Point is at 9,129 ft. elevation and where it is c/o this HADS link and map, because it is station KSPC1:
https://weather.gladstonefamily.net/site/KSPC1

Thus, a decent guess is that there is little snow in that area around 9,000 ft. right now...but the weather for May has been cool to cold v. other years and no early May heat wave like we often get, so I am hesitant to think of going until I see warmer weather in the upper 90's in places like Fresno. Hopefully that will happen soon as I have been up at Graveyard Lakes in prior years by May 20th. at 10,000 ft. with the lakes still at breaking ice stage and snowbanks around yet a few darn mosquitoes starting to appear in slow, semi frozen attempts at finding food = me!

Hope this helps, and sorry I could not get images to paste despite clicking the "Img" button up there. Hope the links button worked, if not just cut and paste.

Best, Zimichael

User avatar
Ultrajen
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 2:10 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Sierra Nevada current snow levels

Post by Ultrajen » Mon May 14, 2018 3:34 pm

i am trying to get snow info for the sabrina basin and i can't really make either of these methods work for me.

User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Addict
Posts: 2829
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Silicon Valley
Contact:

Re: Sierra Nevada current snow levels

Post by SSSdave » Tue May 15, 2018 11:22 am

Ultrajen wrote:i am trying to get snow info for the sabrina basin and i can't really make either of these methods work for me.
Although fair numbers of new remote stations have been added during the last decade, the majority of backcountry areas of Sierra Nevada still have no remote weather stations.

The Tonapah Low over Nevada this week has added to the snow pack at higher areas of the range above 10k and its cool temperatures have also slowed the general snow pack melt. And note forecasts now are suggesting this cool wet Great Basin pattern may continue for at least a couple weeks.

That noted, I just spent 5 days dispersed camping in the Mono Lake Basin, every night a different spot. If one has 4WD and maps, it is the best zone in California for doing so with May the best time of year as temps are mild with much greenery and flowers rising while the big peaks to the west are aesthetically snow covered. Friday evening put several inches of snow on top of the snow pack with snow fully covering landscapes down to 7000 feet. Temperature Saturday dawn was 26F where I camped at 6500 feet on Rush Creek and where I drove for some images at Big Sand Flat along SR120 was 17F. But by mid day on day's sun comes out, t-shirt weather.

User avatar
Ultrajen
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 2:10 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Sierra Nevada current snow levels

Post by Ultrajen » Mon May 21, 2018 5:12 pm

Dumped on us at blue lake in sabrina basin last night. 1-2 feet. Bring snowshoes.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest