9 Incredible Sierra Nevada, California Snow Records:

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The Donner Party in 1846 got hit with the famous Sierra Nevada snows. You know how this one ended...
The Donner Party in 1846 got hit with the famous Sierra Nevada snows. You know how this one ended…

The Sierra Nevada is no stranger to big snowstorms. As far back as November 1846, The Donner Party learned this the hard way with a five-foot overnight snowstorm. Since snow records began in 1879, there have been some incredible snowstorms in the Sierra Nevada of California.

Donner Summit store in 2011. Ridiculously buried. Sierra Nevada snow records
Donner Summit store in 2011. Ridiculously buried. photo: USA today

The Sierra still gets huge amounts of snow, with Sugar Bowl ski resort leading the charge with 500″ of snow per year. This isn’t surprising as Sugar Bowl is located on Donner Pass, where many of the records below took place.

22" of 5% density snow on December 7th, 2013. skier: james yim. photo: snowbrains.com
22″ of 5% density snow on December 7th, 2013. skier: James Yim. photo: snowbrains.com

Nine Incredible Sierra Nevada, CA Snow Records:

#1: Echo Summit (Hwy 50), Lake Tahoe, CA

  • 67-Inches of snow in 24-hours on January 4th-5th, 1982.  Second heaviest USA 24-hour snowfall on record.

#2: Donner Summit (Hwy 80), CA

  • 298-Inches of snow in April 1880.  USA’s snowiest April on record.
Tamarack, CA after a big one, Sierra Nevada snow records
Tamarack, CA, after a big one. photo: mic mac media

#3: Tamarack (Hwy 4), CA

  • 390-Inches of snow in January 1911.  USA’s one-month snowfall record.

#4: Tamarack, CA

  • 454-Inches of snow depth in March 1911.  USA’s seasonal snow depth record.

#5: Tamarack, CA

  • 884-inches of snow in 1906-07.  Sierra Nevada record snowfall for one season.
Sadly, Mt. Shasta Ski Bowl is no more. This place gets a ton of snow.
Sadly, Mt. Shasta Ski Bowl is no more. This place gets a ton of snow.




#6: Mount Shasta Ski Bowl, CA

  • 189-inches of snow in one storm February 13th – 19th, 1959.  USA’s single storm snowfall record (we know, not the Sierra Nevada – the Cascades, but still worth mentioning).
Donner Pass house on April 1st, 2011. photo: tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com
Donner Pass house on April 1st, 2011. photo: tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com

#7: Lake Tahoe, CA

  • 193.7″ of snow in December 2021, smashing the previous record of 170″ in 1970 (and it’s still snowing…)
Sierra Nevada snow records
Credit: Tahoe Fund

#8: Tahoe City, CA

  • In January 1938, Tahoe City was buried under 17-feet of snow in 16 days. This was followed by a further 29-feet in just 14-days. By the end of winter, 819″ of snow was measured at Donner Pass, a record that still stands.

#9: Palisades Tahoe, CA

  • 313″ of snow fell in February 2019 at Palisades Tahoe, CA (formerly known as Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows) making it the sowiest month in the resort’s history.
Squaw Valley, alpine meadows, california, snowiest month ever, februburied
02/15/19 at Squaw Valley, CA. Image: Squaw Valley Facebook




3 Bonus Snow Records for the Lake Tahoe Region:

#1: The Biggest Snowstorm at the Donner Summit Snow Laboratory, CA

  • 186-inches (15.5 ft) of snow from March 27 to April 8, 1982.

#2: The Biggest 24-hour Snowstorms at the Donner Summit Snow Laboratory, CA

  • 52-inches of snow on February 3, 1989.

#3: The Deepest Maximum Snow Depth at the Donner Summit Snow Laboratory

  • 311-inches (26 ft) of snow depth in 1952.
Sierra Nevada snow records
Donner Summit Snowfall and Snowpack records from 1879 to 2018.





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2 thoughts on “9 Incredible Sierra Nevada, California Snow Records:

  1. Hi there,
    Curious as to when an updated graph is to come out comparing this big season to 2017 compared to some big years in the past. Any idea when or how to find a recent snow graph?

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