A Big Snow Year in the Sierra

2011 is going to be a big snow year for hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail.

The Southern Sierra currently has 155% of the normal amount of snow and it just increases as you travel north. The Central Sierra is 161% of normal and the Northern Sierra is at a near record breaking 174% of normal. This is way more than last year, which most felt was a high snow year.

Southern Sierra Snow Chart

This chart from the California Department of Water Resources compares recent high snow years for the Southern Sierra.

April will be a key month to watch because usually the snow begins to melt this month. However, if we have a cool April and more storms the snow could increase instead. This is what happened in 2010. With a warm April the snow might melt off to the levels 2010 hikers experienced, which is still a lot of snow.

The PCT class of 2011 needs be prepared for snow travel. If you were on the fence about bringing the ice axe or MICROspikes plan on using them. Be sure you have your navigation skills dialed in too, since you will be walking on miles of snow this year.