Backpacking — Sierra Nevada Water — April 28, 2017

Wow. Wow. Wow

Central Sierra Nevada snow water content is 200% of normal for this date — unbelievable, especially this late in the spring.

Check out this official report (below) from the California Department of Water Resources.  You can follow this link to a .pdf version that is updated everyday, based on instrument data from the field.

The important thing to get out of the numbers on the map below is that the snow seems to be melting more slowly than normal.  Let’s use the Central Sierra numbers.  The snow water content is 169% of the average for April 1 of each year.  But it is 200% of the average (normal) for this date.  If the snow melted at the same rate every year, then it would be expected there would be 169% of average for this date (very roughly).  The 200% would indicate the snow hasn’t melted as fast as normal.

This could be another year like 2011, when the alpine lakes above 10,000 feet were still frozen and surrounded by snow all the way through July.

If that happens, Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) thru hikers are going to have a rough time of it taking the main trail through the upper elevations until the end of June.  Make sure you bring your waterproof boots and gators.  Crampons and a lightweight ice axe could be a plus if you can manage it.  Or, at least bring extra socks and pants that can dry quickly.

042817 snow water content