NOAA: It’s Time to Say Goodbye | The Sierra Nevada Snowpack Will Be Gone by the End of the Week

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snowpack, california, sierra nevada
All the snow will be gone by the end of the month. Credit: NWS

A month ago the Sierra snowpack was around 50% of average, and over the Memorial Day weekend that fell to 12% of average. Due to the extreme heat beating down on California the last few days, the NOAA is predicting that the snowpack will all but have disappeared by the end of the week. As of today, May 27th, the snowpack is 4%.

Current snowpack in CA/NV. Credit: NRCS

“The snowpack over the Sierra is rather paltry, averaging only 12 percent of normal as of yesterday. Much if not all of that snow will melt during the next 7 days as temperatures warm to well above normal.”

– NOAA, Hanford CA, 5/25/20

Current drought status in California. Credit: NRCS

This same time last year, the snowpack was sitting at 178% of normal. What a difference a year makes! Thanks to last year’s great snowpack, the reservoirs are sitting pretty, despite most of the state being in moderate drought. California’s largest reservoir, Lake Shasta, is at 91% of the historical average (see graphic below).

Credit: NRCS

One unfortunate consequence of the early depletion of the snowpack is a higher wildfire risk. The latest seasonal Wildland Fire Potential Outlook from the National Interagency Fire Center can be found here.

snowpack, drought,
Extreme heat in California. Credit: NWS

Mountain passes open in California right now:

  • 9,624 Sonora Pass
  • 8,730′ Ebbetts Pass
  • 9,945′ Tioga Pass (open from east to Yosemite boundary)
heat, california
Credit: NWS

“Heat-related impacts are likely Wednesday if simple precautions are not taken. Plan to take action to reduce time outdoors, drink plenty of water, and remain in air-conditioned buildings. This type of heat will be hazardous to those who do not take the proper precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses.”

– NWS Hanford

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