Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Generals Highway, Sequoia National Park (Saturday, Feb. 23). Click arrows for additional snow photos.The Sentinel Tree in front of Giant Forest Museum.Clover Creek Cross Country Ski Trail, Sequoia National Park.Looking up-canyon from Lodgepole toward Tokopah Valley and the Watchtower (ridge on right).Old Lodgepole Road Ski Trail, Sequoia National Park.Snowscape.

Sierra snow is 153 percent

More rain in the weekend forecast
By: 
John Elliott

 

The March 1 snow-survey results for the Sierra Nevada were all good news, and odds are they will improve even more in March, typically among the best precipitation months during the season that runs from October through June. Of more than 75 stations where data could be retrieved, the statewide average is 153 percent of the norm for this date; those numbers translate to 133 percent of the seasonal April 1 benchmark.
 
The Sierra snowmelt supplies about one-third of California’s water so these April numbers help the State plan water deliveries so users can make informed decisions on when and how to plan their distributions.
 
In the Southern Sierra region that includes the Kaweah watershed, the current snowpack checks in at 147 percent of the March 1 norm and 125 percent of the April 1 average. If storms continue to add more snow to the existing pack above 6,000 feet, those April 1 prospects could improve considerably.
 
Ironically, Department of Water and Power officials had scheduled a live feed from the Phillips Ranch demonstration site for February 28. That annual event, open to media outlets, could not be broadcast because a snowstorm had knocked out cell service.  
 
In contrast, last year the Phillips Station (6,873 feet) in the Truckee region on March 1 (2018) had patchy snow and a paltry pack that measured 50 percent of the seasonal norm. 
 
Statewide, the current water content average is 37.1 inches and that bodes well for Valley farmers who had to weather sizable cuts in their 2018 deliveries. This year, farmers have already been noticed that the 2019 deliveries will be increased by at least a third over last year.  That
means less groundwater will be needed and the Valley’s overdraft deficit could potentially be reduced. 
 
In Sequoia National Park, where at least a half-dozen of the measuring stations are located, there remains a solid pack of five to seven feet depending on location and exposure. In the Mineral King valley, there is six feet of snow (monitor the Mineral King snow stake at www.mk-webcam.net/).
 
At least an inch of rain is in the weekend forecast for Three Rivers and the foothills. There is a chance of precipitation for almost every day next week.
 
Though these storms will be noticeably warmer than the last round, an additional one to two feet of snow is expected above 7,000 feet. The flow in the five forks of the Kaweah River will increase due to the warmer storms that will melt some of the lower elevation snowpack.
 
Anyone planning to visit the parks during the weekend will be required to have tire chains for snow travel and the Generals Highway will be subject to temporary closures while the snowplows clear the roadways, especially in the Giant Forest and Lodgepole areas.
 
As of March 1, Three Rivers has received 13 inches of rainfall in gauges located at the 1,000 feet elevation; five of those inches came in February. One year ago, that March 1 total was 5.63 inches. 
 
March 2018 produced more than six inches of rain. If that happens again in 2019, Three Rivers will approach its 30-year seasonal average of 20 inches of precipitation.    
 
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