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Knowing where Snow is in the Sierra Nevada

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Knowing where Snow is in the Sierra Nevada
May 20, 2012 11:21AM
Was supposed to be on a road trip about 200 miles to the north to view the eclipse today, but the other person caught a head cold, didn't feel like spending the $90 on gas all by myself, and have a 6 day trip up to Del Norte County redwoods over the holiday to prepare for anyway.

Since we are just a week away from the Memorial Day weekend, some members will likely be visiting the Sierra Nevada making plans for hiking and backpacking. One questions will be where can one hike without getting into snow? Webcams in some areas provide useful looks at what things look like but there are vast areas beyond that are unknowns. An enhancement of today's, 5/20/2012 1km satellite view of the Sierra Nevada. Yes that white stuff is mostly snow with grayer areas either increasingly scattered snow, snow in forest areas, or bare granite. The snowy areas are however the bright white. So how does one tell geographically what one is looking at? Well today I loaded an information feature onto my Tips, Tools, Information website sub page to assist that task. Open up this link in another browser window:


Select the "Sierra Nevada Snow Cover May 18, 2008" link on that page to compare to today's satellite image below:

I know there are some other savvy maps folks here so a bit of a challenge going north to south.

Notice how the Crystal Range in Desolation Wilderness east of Tahoe is strongly bright white? The small dark U region is of course the lower elevation Rubicon River areas.

Notice how some areas about Carson Pass still have quite a bit of snow? OF course thereabouts one can also see that snow in todays Kirkwood Ski resort live webcam:


And how the big peaks about Ebbetts Pass just have snow atop the peaks while the pass is melted out?

Further south in the Tuolumne basin is where significant snows begin. Note how there is a solid band of snow still across Sonora Pass?

Can you see how brightly the Cathedral Range and Buena Vista Crests are standing out? And how the dark area just north is the Lyle Fork of the Tuolumne River while the are to the south is the Merced River? And how the Ritter Range also stands out with a little bit of white atop San Joaquin Ridge further east across the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River canyon? Now see that one round bright white spot? Mammoth Mountain of course!

Across the dark middle fork gap is the Fish Creek basin with white Sierra Crest areas east and the Silver Divide south. Two of us have a 9-day backpack there in about 60 days into the Minnow Creek area.

Then another dark gap of Mono Creek. We can see there is NO snow atop Bear Ridge but snows all about the big peaks forming the south areas of the creek with Bear Creek in the next drainage.

Notice how due east across the Owens Valley, the White Mountains have mostly melted out that I also just read on a summitpost.com post. They also noted the road to the Patriach Grove is accessible with 4WD.

Next we can see the dark canyons of the South Fork of the San Joaquin and Evolution Valley with white all around. Le Conte Divide is of course mostly still snow covered. A wee bit of white remains way west at Kaiser Peak, Kaiser Pass, and atop the Dinkey Lakes peaks.

Then another dark gap of the Kings River with Monarch Divide a horizontal white line across. We can even make out the slit of Enchanted Gorge next to Black Divide.

Further south we can see quite a lot of snow stop the Tablelands and into the Great Western Divide, and across the Kings Kern Divide the main Whitney crest areas. But not much further south about the Cottonwood Pass areas, snow seems to be melted out.


avatar Re: Knowing where Snow is in the Sierra Nevada
May 20, 2012 11:30AM
Looks like July, not May.
avatar Re: Knowing where Snow is in the Sierra Nevada
May 26, 2012 06:23PM
I bet the satellite photo next week will show even a lot less snow.
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