There’s definite improvement in the Klamath National Forest snowpack given the several weeks of sun and above normal temps we had for much of January and early February; however overall results are bit below normal, although the data set is incomplete.
So when can we go backpacking in the high country? Depends on how much snow we get for the rest of the season and how warm it is from now through May and June.
Here’s the data from a press release:
March 1st Snow Survey Results for the Scott River Watershed
Yreka, CA– Employees of the Salmon/Scott River Ranger District of the Klamath National Forest have completed the March 1st snow surveys. All five of the snow measurement sites are located within the Scott River watershed.
A series of storms starting mid-February have helped raise local snowpack conditions closer to long-term averages for this time of year. According to the current snow course measurements the snowpack is at 85% from the historical March 1st average.
Unfortunately, adverse weather conditions affected efforts to measure core samples for three sites – Dynamite Meadow, Middle Boulder #1, and Middle Boulder #3. Good core samples are required to compute equivalent water content. Because accurate samples could not be obtained, this metric cannot be reported this month for these three sites; and, consequentially, a basin average is also not available. However, equivalent water content values are available for both Scott Mountain (93%) and Swampy John (77%), as well as from the automated station sited at Middle Boulder #3 (92%). The numbers which are available show an enhancement of snowpack equivalent water depth since February.
Snow depth and water content are measured by obtaining a core sample of snow with a specially designed and calibrated aluminum tube. The snow depth is recorded and the water equivalent of that snow sample is calculated by weighing the core of snow in the tubes. The information is forwarded to the State of California, where the data is compiled with other snow reports and becomes part of the California Cooperative Snow Survey program, managed by the California Department of Water Resources. The information is used to help the State forecast the amount of water available for agricultural uses, power generation, and stream flow releases later in the year.
During the winter and spring months (Feb-May), district employees travel to pre-determined measuring sites to collect information about snow accumulation in the mountains of the Klamath National Forest above the south and west portions of Scott Valley. The “snow courses” are designated locations that are used to provide information about the amount of snow and moisture each winter month. Some sites are located a few dozen yards off forest roads; while others require hours of travel by snow shoes and/or snowmobile.
Snow survey members this month included: Carol Ballow, Isaac Flattley, Nic Hoisington, Stephanie McMorris, Phil McNeal, Maija Meneks, Bill Robinson, and Susan Tebbe.
For more information, go to the California Department of Water Resources Website: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/snow or contact Maija Meneks on the Salmon/Scott River Ranger District at (530) 468-1272.