Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report – January 2nd, 2017

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Howie SchwartzLeave a Comment

Happy New Year backcountry skiers and snowboarders!

Early season snow conditions have been great and it was a wonderful holiday season… yadda, yadda. The relevant thing to be talking about though is not what has been (check out our earlier reports for that), but what is to come…

This might be the kind of CA drought busting season that last year promised but never delivered.

Our New Year’s resolution is to ski more powder, and more powder we shall ski! At least if model forecasts have any credibility in this decade. The NWS is calling for over 18″ of precious H2O to fall from the sky over the next 7 days over the length of the Sierra Nevada Range. This means we might expect to see the snowpack at 9000′ around here more than double and the higher places along the Sierra Crest might see snowpacks increase by a factor of 5 or 6.

GFS model showing an impressive AR plume focused on the Mammoth area on Sunday.

Snowfall is forecast to come in relatively light with snow:water ratios in the 13 to 15:1 range. Then sometime Wednesday, the temps will rise and we will see ratios drop to 9 or 10:1. This should make for some interesting “upside-down” powder conditions. The real question for us is where the snow levels will be. The GFS model suggests the 700mb (10,000′) temps will be a bit below freezing at the warmest point this Wednesday during the storm. NWS forecasters are calling this a 5500-6000′ snow level, but we’ll have to see…

700mb temperatures on Wednesday

Friday presents a brief respite before a series of large atmospheric river events point the firehose at our mountains Saturday and through perhaps the next week. Again snow levels will be key to watch with forecasters currently predicting 7000-7500′.

The other critically important source of information to keep an eye on is the advisory from the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center. Did you know that they just hired a 3rd forecaster? An historic event for our fledgling local privately-run avalanche info center. They are in transition to be offering 5x/week advisories this season. This takes money and resources. Please consider supporting the efforts and the community with a tax-exempt donation to ESAC, or at least by submitting your observations often. Mountain Hub is becoming a goto platform for seeing and easily submitting useful observations with a few clicks on a mobile smartphone using their iOS/Android apps. Good stuff!

Last years “snowmageddon” early season storm series came in warmer and weaker than predicted, so maybe we shouldn’t believe this one until the snow stacks up on the ground. It is a weather pattern to be excited about, all coming on top of a decent base above 9000′. We will be sure to report on conditions as we sample them in the coming weeks. Won’t you join us?




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