Let it snow! With 78 inches of new snow the past week in Tuolumne Meadows, it marked the snowiest December on record (since 1980). While this doesn’t translate to the most water, the fresh snow has kept winter rangers busy shoveling, breaking trail, and collecting data.
An important distinction to make is the difference between “new snow” or the amount of snow falling in a 24 hour period (measured on a “storm board” which is cleared every 24 hours: HN24), the settled snow depth (measured by a permanent snow stake that fluctuates throughout the winter as new snow falls and settles over time: HS), and the water content of new snow (the method historically used here is to melt the snow gathered in a rain gauge and then measure the height of the water in a calibrated cylinder every 24 hours: HN24W). By this metric, there have been wetter Decembers based on water content (perhaps there was rain, and/or the snow had a higher water content), but the 154 inches of snow measured so far this month is the “highest” recorded at the Tuolumne Meadows plot in 42 years of record-keeping!
Read more about the ski and avalanche conditions our Tuolumne Meadows winter rangers encountered this week: https://www.nps.gov/…/update-for-december-28-2021.htm.