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Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Golden State. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the California Climbing Partners forum.
 

Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby cheeseburger » Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:30 pm

Anyone been into the west side Sequoias? Silliman, Alta? Curious where the snow starts and the conditions, etc.
Thanks!
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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby Clark_Griswold » Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:17 pm

I recall the article about trees growing at the bottom of some Sierra Lake, tens or a hundred feet or more under water today, but obviously above water during a mega drought 800 years ago. There is a flurry of articles talking about how 2013 is the driest year on record for many California locations. Rain and snow has been lacking this season, and the graph of Sierra snowpack is currently at it's driest (on average) ever for this day, though I don't know how far records go back. So, while it has been drier in the distant past, it seems this is currently the driest it has been in recent past, and this could always be the start of a deepening drought, which is cyclical in the Sierra and not at all unknown to the recent geologic memory of the range. Perhaps, but perhaps not.
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/snowap ... art.action

However, one of the National Weather Service Offices, either Hanford or Sacramento, had a story last week about previously dry years with low snow from July 1 to early January, and all 3 previous years were followed by wetter times. Probably not super wet in terms of seasonal averages for the year,but enough to at least produce a snowpack and some water supply. Which, is better than the current conditions. Also, the Grand Junction NWS office in Colorado had an article about the season, with this type of neutral year being wet in November and December, and then dry in January, which had happened to that time, and then wet in February to March. While Colorado can be wet and California dry, as has occurred this fall, there is plenty of time and a precedent of things turning around later this winter and spring.

Also, some interesting NPS Yosemite webcams, with Badger Pass Ski area looking quite bare at it's base of 7200', and the valley flood having no snow at all.
http://www.nps.gov/yose/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm
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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby cheeseburger » Sun Jan 12, 2014 6:17 pm

Wow, that is sad news. But if memory serves me the last drought of this magnitude was 88-92 (roughly) and in the fall of 92 it ended with a dramatic El Nino rain.

Any specific west-side Sierra snow info would be greatly appreciated. I've heard likely little to no snow until 9500 feet then lousy conditions after that. Thanks
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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby boyblue » Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:18 am

The 1975 - 1977 season has been called, "...the granddaddy of California droughts..." (http://www.science.calwater.ca.gov/publications/sci_news_0409_expert.html).

I took this picture from the summit of Mount Williamson on December 25, 1976 (merry Christmas) looking toward the Kaweahs:
028.jpg
028.jpg (538.26 KiB) Viewed 1380 times

Later that same season, I made an attempt on Whitney in April, 1977. Even near Consultation Lake the snow was never more than a foot or so deep...
Drought2.jpg
Whitney Trail switchbacks.
Drought2.jpg (554.12 KiB) Viewed 1380 times

I attempted the MR in late 1977. Cold, but very little snow...
MRandIceBerg.jpg
Looking Down on Iceberg Lake from near the MR notch.
MRandIceBerg.jpg (468.92 KiB) Viewed 1380 times

1978 was a very heavy snow year. So much for the 'granddaddy of California droughts...'
Drought3.jpg
A phone booth along Glacier Point Road in April, 1978...
Drought3.jpg (386.76 KiB) Viewed 1380 times
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WEST SIDE

Postby sharperblue » Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:14 pm

So the thread is East Side, but since West Side conditions were asked:

SEKI - general's highway is still open; will close after the next snow, according to the Park's website; CalTrans website says that 180 is open to Road's End; that is NOT true; it's closed up high in the usual spot.

Conditions: let me put it this way: I was on top of Mount Stewart yesterday over Valhalla via Crescent Meadow and the High Sierra Trail (about 18 miles into the range due East from Moro Rock) - no snowshoes, barely any ground cover even at Kaweah Gap.

If you want to climb Moro Rock, Alta Peak, the Kaweahs, Lippencot, Angel Wings (I'm looking at you, Brandon, and your poop tube in the Bear Box at Hamilton lakes) Stewart or any other major peaks around the Great Western Divide, sadly, access is pretty much late spring conditions easy.

Nighttime temps maybe 20F and daytime 45, zero precip, zero groundcover until Hamilton lakes proper, where it's about 6"
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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby Clydascope » Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:15 pm

Monitor Pass re-opened yesterday and rumors are swirling that Tioga Pass may open as well.

http://www.sierrawave.net/28135/monitor-pass-re-opens/
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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby LincolnB » Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:21 pm

I was in Reno last week -- looked like you could hike the south slope of Mt Rose to the summit, 10,776', without touching snow. My kid said skiing at the Mt Rose resort was great, but that's a north-facing slope and they make their own snow.
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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby cheeseburger » Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:06 pm

boyblue, thanks for the photos and info. You're right about 1978, it is on record as one of the biggest rain seasons for California I believe if not the biggest. I don't know what's more rare, rain the past couple years or that phone booth. :)

sharperblue, thanks for the conditions update. The upper slopes of Alta and other peaks are probably mushy if not completely barren.
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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby granite4brains » Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:44 pm

Anybody know how far you can make it up any of the following roads: Horsehoe Meadows, Onion Valley, Big Pine to Glacier Lodge? Thanks!
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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby Scott M. » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:20 am

Dry and clear road from Big Pine to Glacier Lodge.
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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby Clydascope » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:47 am

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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby Clark_Griswold » Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:36 am



And, that is impressive because you're basically comparing a record dry year (2013) to a year (2014) that is starting out even drier than the previous year.

Looks like even with storms, this year could be worse than 1976-1977.
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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby SeanReedy » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:16 am

Clark_Griswold wrote:


And, that is impressive because you're basically comparing a record dry year (2013) to a year (2014) that is starting out even drier than the previous year.

Looks like even with storms, this year could be worse than 1976-1977.


2012 had a very wet ending. The map dated January 13, 2013 shows a normal to slightly above normal snowpack for that date. Calendar year (not a measurement normally given notice) 2013 was extremely dry by modern standards, resulting in a dry 2012-2013 precipitation/snowpack season and an extremely dry start to the 2013-2014 season. Much of the snow that fell in November-December 2013 (mostly Nov.) has melted, and California has been experiencing record warmth to start 2014 rather than storms. The map dated January 13, 2014 does show a stark contrast from normal snow cover!

As far as breaking any full season or multi-season records for low precipitation and snowpack, we still have February, March, and April (sometimes May brings precipitation, especially in the far north).

The long term forecast for February came out today and predicts continuing below normal precipitation with above normal temperatures: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/

This map and corresponding tables show snowpack water content measurements and the date is changeable, so you can go back and see where the snowpack water content stood on a given date as far back as October 2001 (North, Central, and Southern divisions included): http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/snowapp/sweq.action

Edit: I just spotted a link that provides some of the same maps, but adds a few more, for a more thorough (albeit somewhat alarmist sounding) summary.
http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2014/01/extreme-drought-in-california.html?m=1
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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby Clark_Griswold » Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:54 pm

Indeed, your statement about late 2012 and all of 2013 is true. When one looks at the snowgraphs for WY 2013, almost all of the precipitation fell in the November and December period, of 2012.

It just seems more shocking, when you consider the calendar year. The 2013 WY, as was the 2012 WY, were both dry. Something like 50% of normal, for both WYs. This years so far, much worse. The white in the picture really says nothing about depth, just coverage.
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Re: Eastern Sierra snow condition updates?

Postby Pastorron » Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:57 pm

Hey -

Given the low snow year, I was thinking of heading up to the Eastern Sierra soon. Has anyone any info on these areas:

-Split Mountain
-White Mountain and the road up

Thanks for any info - and all the great links and pictures everyone - so helpful.
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