A series of storms have been a bonus for California’s Sierra Nevada where nearly 16 feet of snow has piled up in March alone, more than the entire season’s accumulation before the month began, explains weather.com.
Through the end of February, the Lake Tahoe ski resort Alpine Meadows had received just 147 inches of snow this season at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Since then, 191 inches of snow, or nearly 16 feet, has fallen in just 18 days.
The seasonal total at the resort is now up to 338 inches. That’s still way off the more than 600 inches recorded through mid-March last year, but above the 2014-15 and 2013-14 winters when less than 300 inches accumulated.
This famine to feast is further illustrated by the snow water equivalent in the Sierra, a measure of how much water content is locked into the snowpack. Spring and summer snowmelt of Sierra snowpack is crucial to California’s water supply. It recharges reservoirs during the state’s dry summer and early fall, so the amount of water content it contains is important.
In the central Sierra, including the Tahoe region, the snow water equivalent was 45 percent of average as of March 15. That’s nearly double the 23 percent of average it was Feb. 21, although still well below the mid-March average.
You can see the expansion of the snowpack throughout the Sierra in these satellite image comparisons of Feb. 21 to March 18.
The March totals are only set to grow larger in the highest elevations later this week too, as a new storm system will drop additional feet of snow on the region.