Snow levels (snowpack or snow pack) in Lassen Volcanic National Park are far below normal for this time of year in 2009.
It’s no surprise to any of us who live in Northern California mountains or visit them on a regular basis: snowpack is way below normal. I live on the north side of Mount Shasta. The mighty mountain itself has been a bit bare this winter, and one of my personal fave peaks, Black Butte, has just a few patches of white, and it’s usually totally cloaked in early February.
Lassen Volcanic National Park Snow pack
Here’s some February 2009 snowpack data from Lassen Volcanic National Park from an article in the Redding Record Searchlight:
“We are melting, and we shouldn’t be melting,” said Karen Haner, spokeswoman at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Known for its hefty snowfall, the park east of Redding is light on snow despite the 7 feet stacked around Lake Helen.
“There should be another 5 feet or so,” she said.
The situation is the same on the typically snow-heavy slopes of Mt. Shasta. Snowshoeing through sunshine Tuesday, Shasta-Trinity National Forest workers surveyed snow around Horse Camp – at 7,900 feet on the mountain’s west side.
The numbers they found are in line with other skimpy snowpacks around the north state, most of which are below half of average for this time of year.
Unless there is a statistically improbable major amount of precip from now through May (unlikely due to a La Nina situation in equatorial Pacific Ocean), we will see another summer of drought and prime conditions for more wildfires and smoky skies, which will impact hiking in Lassen Volcanic National Park and elsewhere.
One obvious consequence of low snowpack is that the trails will be open sooner. My plan is to hit the high country early, as soon as the snow melts.
I hope it’s temporary, but for now it looks like June is the new July.
How will the expected drought in Northern California affect your hiking plans this year?