High Sierra Backpacker Weather: reports, forecasts, predictions, snow, roads, conditions


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 05 October 2011

Key
QUICK HIGH SIERRA WEATHER
Resources
Current
 VISIBLE
 Satellite View of the Whole Sierra Nevada Range 1 KM National Weather Service Satillte view of Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Above:
Current National Weather Service 3 KM VISIBLE
Sierra Nevada Mountains.

 

  ALL
SATELLITE VIEWS

  Last Sat image in animation series generally less than an hour  old.
  Local Radars run up to almost current moment. 

GMT NOW


 Current 
7 DAY PRECIPITATION FORECAST
DAILY

US seven day precipitation-rain forecast for backpackers.National Weather Service
Weather Prediction Center

 

 

All 
RAIN-SNOW
PRECIPITATION FORECASTS

 

 

Five Day 
Animated Snow Forecast
 
Three day snow graphical snow forecast.Five  Day 
 Animated
SNOW FORECAST

 

CLICK 
"Most Recent Model Run
on
 Five Day
Snow and Rain Forecasts

Above 
and
Below

 

Five Day
Animated 
MAX RAINFALL

model

 

  

Five Day
 Animated 
One-TENTH of an INCH

Model
 

(Compare and Contrast the two models above to find your likely local precip...)


    National Weather Service
WEATHER PREDICTION CENTER

 

Current 
NORTH SIERRA NEVADA RADAR

North and Central Sierra Nevada Radar for Backpackers.


see
ALL RADAR

Latest Radar image is
seven to ten minutes old.
 

 GMT NOW

 

CURRENT
TEMPERATURES-WINDS-HUMIDITY

Everywhere in the Sierra 
(And a 30-Day History)
MESOWEST 
REAL-TIME REPORTING STATIONS 



Current 
 Intense Global Thunderstorm Activity

Current Global Thunderstorm Activity, including Sierra Nevada backpacker's reports.
The map above tracks the last two days of intense global thunderstorm activity.

 

 

FALL-WINTER SEASON
INFORMATION OF VITAL INTEREST
SNOWPACK STATUS

Latest Daily Snow Depth Summary

Daily Sierra Snowpack % of Normal pdf

Daily Snow-Water & Percent of Average

 

California Major Reservoir Graphic

 

All Precipitation-Snow Data

All Snow Surveys

SWC & Snow Depth

 

FANTASTIC RESOURCE:

The BIG Snow Picture
in the 
Sierra Nevada Mountains

Snowpack Status
 The Sierra Nevada.

Above: Federal,
 Regional Snow Analyses: Western Coastal.

THIS IS A DATE-ADJUSTED FEATURE
Adjut the date for today's conditons, recent trends, and to compare year-over-year.

All Reporting Stations

MesoWest Ground Stations

Snowtel Ground Stations 

 


Snow Water Equivalent

Adjustable snow water equlivants with many informative features.

National Snow Water Equlivant Map

 

SNOW DATA
Winter Weather Forecast
Probability Tools

 NOAA
All recent U.S. Snowfall and Snow Depth Maps

 

Winter Weather Probability MapsSnow probability maps.

This resource gives us the snowfall probabilities three days into the future. Compare the probability charts for different depths of snow for the most accurate picture of upcoming conditions. 

Above: Snowfall Probability Forecast Maps

NEW
Snowfall Probability Map
New NWS snowfall probability tool

Besides the snowfall probability maps above, the snowfall probability pages also feature links to nifty national projections of surface low tracks and the potential for freezing temps, linked to below and above: 

 

NWS: Surface Low Pressure Tracks (3 days)

NWS: Probability of Surface Freezing (6.5 days)

  

CALTRANS
 HIGH SIERRA HIGHWAY CONDITIONS
 Cal Trans
High Sierra Nevada Mountain Pass Road Status and Conditions
  

  

LOCAL CONDITIONS
High Sierra
GRAPHICAL WEATHER FORECASTS

 

 

  ANIMATED SURFACE WEATHER MAP
 Seven Day Animated Pressures, Fronts, and Weather Forecast
Six Day Animated Weather Forecast

All Surface Maps

TIME
 All the forecast and prediction tools on this site are time-referenced to GMT, Greenwich Mean Time, otherwise known as UMT or Zulu Time.  

GMT NOW         PST NOW

Time of Forecasts and Predictions

The High Sierra is in the PST zone, which is 8 hours earlier than Zulu Time. That's why we open the USNO GMT time when we review our weather tools. The difference between current Zulu Time and those of the last Satellite and Radar images tells us exactly how old they are.

More
Time Information

 

THE BIG PICTURE 

EARTH 
 EARTH.
 A visualization of global weather conditions
forecast by supercomputers
updated every three hours
(AMAZING)
Compare and contrast the views we get through "Earth," and the Satellite Views above and below against the animated
Continental US Surface Map and the North Pacific Surface Forecast Map.

 

ALL
HIGH SIERRA
BACKPACKERS WEATHER RESOURCES
BELOW
Below find the Best Weather Information for everyone traveling to, backpacking  through, hiking, skiing, or driving across the High Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, or the Western United States.
    All weather reports and forecasts here are focused on the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, but many resources cover, or can be adjusted to cover weather conditions around California, Nevada, and our whole country. This is good backpacking weather information for all US backpackers.

 

Very Important Weather Information

The Current "Hot" Topic
---BACKPACKER ALERTS---

High Sierra Weather Trends

Synoptic Discussion



A Historically Unprecedented
DROUGHT

FLOODS

 

CALTRANS
 HIGH SIERRA HIGHWAY CONDITIONS
 Cal Trans
High Sierra Nevada Mountain Pass Road Status and Conditions
 


 

 RADAR 
 HIGH SIERRA NEVADA 
Reflecting Real Time High Sierra Atmospherics

  ALL RADAR

California    North Sierra     South Sierra  

  

RAIN-SNOW   
ALL
PRECIPITATION
RAIN-SNOW
Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts

 1-7 Day National Forecasts

Four-Day Snow Forecast

2 week Precipitation Forecasts         7 day to 6 month Rainfall Anomalies 

Forecast Models

 

 

HIGH SIERRA
  GRAPHICAL INTERFACE
ALL-WEATHER FORECAST 

A week of temperatures, Winds, Cloud Cover, Rain and Snow
forecasts thru a darn cool  graphical interface

North California
Forecast

Southern California
Forecast

 

 

SATELLITE
VIEWS 

Bird's Eye views above us and over the horizon anticipating  the big view of what is coming across the North Pacific Ocean towards the Sierra Nevada Trails

ALL SATELLITES

NWS North Pacific and Western US    Northeast Pacific     East Pacific

Continental US

 

 

HIGH SIERRA
REAL-TIME
GROUND REPORTING STATIONS 
Current on the Spot conditions including current Snow Depth, Temperature, Wind and Dew Point information from state and federal networks of of HIgh Sierra ground stations

ALL
HIGH SIERRA GROUND REPORTING STATIONS

Mesowest North         Mesowest South          Snotel fed stations    

California State System

 

 

  El NINO-SOUTHERN OSCILLATION

ALL EL NINO
ENSO


Sea Surface Temps        5000 Ft Anomolous Winds        39000 ft Anomolous Winds 

 Global Sea Surface         3 Day Global Infrared Animation

 

 

   SURFACE WEATHER MAPS
 Ten days in the past to Six days into the future
Weather Maps of Atmospheric Pressures, Storms, and Fronts

Classic United States
Surface Weather Maps

 

United States
7-Day ANIMATED Surface Weather Map

 

North Pacific Ocean
14-Day ANIMATED Surface Weather Map

 

United States
ANIMATED 
7-Day Freezing Temps Probability

 

UPPER AIR WINDS
Surface and Upper Air Maps
Jet Stream and Surface Winds

Pressures and Altitudes


 

HIGH SIERRA NEVADA MOUNTAINS
 &
FLANKS
ZONE and POINT
FORECASTS 

ALL Sierra Zones Forecasts 
ALL 5 High Sierra ZONES Weather Forecasts  

High Sierra Forecast
ZONES 
Lake Tahoe    NW Sierra   E Central Sierra   Cen-South Sierra   South Sierra 

Weather
On the Trail Guide

North Sierra    Central Sierra  

 


Forecast
POINTS 
Echo Summit     Carson Pass    Ebbetts Pass   Sonora Pass   Tuolumne Meadows    

 

Ground Reporting
STATIONS
Echo Summit      Carson Pass     Ebbetts Pass    Sonora Pass   Tuolumne Meadows 

 

 

Trail Guide
TRAILHEADS
Echo Summit      Carson Pass     Ebbetts Pass    Sonora Pass   Tuolumne Meadows
 


 CLIMATE
PREDICTION TOOLS 

From three days to three months of weather trend predictions

Climate Prediction Center

New 
Climate Prediction Center 

 

 

 Very Cool Animations

6-day US Freeze Prob.     7-day animated US Weather MAP     1-day Pressure Lows

  

  YOSEMITE WEATHER CONDITIONS 

 

  

Hot and Cold Safety

Lightening Probabilities

Hot and Cold Conditions Safety

Heat Safety Chart         Wind Chill Chart

Notes, Analysis, and Comments

New
North Sierra Weather Reports

 

 
 More
Weather, Information
 Instruction, and Symbology 

Weather Information & Instruction

Explanation of Weather Map Symbols

 

 

Terms, Times, and Symbols 

Weather Termonolgy & Symbols

All Surface Symbols


Time of Forecasts and Predictions

GMT NOW         PST NOW

All Instructional Resources


 

National Forests and Parks
 
National Forest and Park Weather       Yosemite Weather 

 

 

FIRE and SMOKE
INFORMATION 


Cal Fire.CA

Fire and Smoke Information

Inciweb: Federal

California Smoke Information

 National Fire Outlook

 

Lightening Probabilities

 

 

  Dec 2014:
 I'm leaving the drought Information up (below) through the Winters of  2014-15-16 to track its evolution. 
  Fire Resources added March 27 2015. Big 2015 fire year coming NOW. 

Nov 2015:
Big El Nino load of tropical moisture is going to hit someone, if not eveyone, on the West Coast of the USA. After crossing the coast this warm tropical moisture is going to explode when it hits the cold dry air in the middle-North of the US.

Oct 2016
First normal Fall rains in years-La Nina puttering along in South Pac.

 

DROUGHT INFORMATION  

California Major Reservoir Graphic

Daily Reservoir Storage Summary

 

California River Guidance Plots

 

California Drought Monitor

NOAA Drought Outlook

US Drought Portal

 

NOAA Climate Monitoring

 

WINTER TOOLS

 SNOW STATUS
 Rates of change and predictive aspects
of
snowpack degradation & conditions
 
Sierra Snow Analyses  

 

SNOWFALL
PREDICTION TOOLS 

From three day to three month snowfall predictions

   Snowfall Probability Forecast

NEW
Snowfall Probability Forecast tool
 

 

INTRODUCTION
Why this is important
   High Sierra Backpackers, Hikers, and Skiers need accurate and compreshensive weather information to plan for, and properly gear ourselves for safe year-round backcountry travel. This page is IT.

These weather resources allow us to track Winter conditions through the Spring Thaw, and measure the Spring Thaw against that Winter's snowpack to determine when the all-season backpacker can put away the snow shoes, lighten up the gear and finally begin the Summer Backpacking Season. Then we watch for T-storms, fire, and smoke.

Yup. We do that. Post your help...

These weather resources help guide our determination of when it's wise to thicken our gear as Fall approaches, when the Winter gear must again be deployed, and when we can again lighten up into Spring.

The collection of resources here is designed for four-season backpackers to determine when seasonal transitions occur, and the character of each season that's transitioning.

   The scope of these High Sierra Weather assets span from a grand view of our quadrant of the Earth, from our "eyes in the sky" satellites, Pacific-Scale animated weather maps, and the "Earth" supercomputer graphic down to specific "on the ground" temp, current precip, snow depth, and wind information from the available range of reporting stations on and around the Sierra Crest from the various webs of real-time ground reporting stations.

All of these broad and narrow perspectives are tied together by the latest combination of graphical and written forecasts and then presented as really cool rain, temperature, and pressure forecasts.

For those of us seeking the longer view of what's behind, what is specifically fueling our weather's trends and character can find a wide range of powerful descriptive tools including Upper Air Maps, Global IR radar, and Sea Surface Temps charting some of the underlaying forces driving our weather patterns, as well as just observing the patterns themselves.

By "descriptive" I mean graphical representations of the most fundamental Forces of Nature.

I learn more every day.

       In any case, these broad and narrow perspectives on Eastern and Central Pacific weather activity feeding the weather we experience along the Sierra Crest are presented through the most sophisticated sets of weather warning systems, graphical interfaces, animations, and even old-school textual forecasts that I can inform myself and you with.

Post up your favoite weather resources.

All of this is to inform the backcountry traveler's information and expectations and guide our  gear selection for four-season High Sierra Backpacking. 

Cold pierces and threatens as much during Summer as Winter to the respectively improperly or unprepared backpacker. The goal is to tune our expectations, and therefore our gear to as perfect a reflection of the actual weather conditions as humanly possible.
And then give ourselves an "extra layer" of protection!

These real-time views and short-term forecasts of the weather over the Sierra are supplemented by a strong set of long and short term weather prediction tools.

  Goal
We are looking to obtain an accurate look of current conditions within the context of the overall seasonal and long term trends our current weather conditions are working within. We are not just trying to understand the character of of each unique hiking season, but figure out its potential to produce extreme weather conditions, and how these condtions will form-up. We are looking at the average to understand the potentials for extreme weather.

Then we look for the specific profile of the weather during our trip.

But first we acknowledge that extreme unexpected weather always happens, sooner or later. It comes in a wide range of forms, but it always comes Second, the Sierra Nevada can be expected to produce thunderheads, downpours, and lightening during the Summer even during "ideal" conditions.

The Whole Nine Yards
We link to comprehensive High Sierra road conditions reports too...

All of this information has been put together to understand what's going on in the Sky. 

 The more accurate our observations and the better our judgment of the factors that affect current conditions as they happen in the sky, the more effectively will can deal with them in the field. This page is not made to go with us in the field, but the lessons learned using it can.

 Matching our personal observations of storm development with what we see using the various satellite, radar, pressure, front, and forecast information trains and matches our observations with reality to productive effective observation and analysis in the field.

Our skills observing and anticipating approaching storm or changing weather conditions and the better we can gage the strength, duration and direction of current or changing conditions, the better we can anticipate and gird ourselves for the challenges when we are hiking in the mountains.

In other words our observation skills and analysis are practiced all the time for
Filed Readiness.

The bottom line is we need to get a feeling for what's going on, and what could possibley go on in the sky during the span of our particular backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains when we detach from the digital and even the social spheres.

We can adjust our gear and our trip parameters to match the range of  anticipated and possible weather conditions, once we get a feel for the powerful potentials Nature packs.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Many of the weather reporting resources on this page can be used to gage various aspects of  weather conditions covering the High Sierra and beyond. California, the Western States, and our Nation are included in many of the weather resouces below, or they can be "dialed out" to cover your area of interest. Most of the weather reporting and forecasting tools here can be easily adjusted to cover different regions of the United States.

All links to outside weather resources open in a new tab.

See the trail guide.
 For more information 
about Backpacking the High Sierra.
 


 

FANTASTIC RESOURCE:

Graphical Interface Forecast 

Weather, Wind, Dew, Temperature & much more

This fantastic tool opens with the current day's report of current conditions, while clicking to  future dates brings us to graphical forecast displays for the various aspects of ourl forecast for upcoming days.

These would be the ranges of cloud cover, of rain and snow cover, of fog and temperature, among the wide range of graphically presented forecasts.

It also has standing wind and gusts!

   Adjust the dates through the upcoming week to see them graphically presented in a manner that beats the hell out of the local talking heads on radio, tv, and cable.

To use it adjust the day-date to the desired forecast period then scroll over the forecast categories on the Left sidebar to review the different aspects of the Weather Forecast through this nifty graphical interface.Graphical interface for seven days of High Sierra Weather, Temperatures, rain, wind, and cloud cover. 

Above
Graphical Weather Forecast of the North & Central Sierra, Northern California.

Graphical Forecast

Southern Sierra-Southern California  
Seven day graphical interface weather forecast of the South Sierra Nevada.

So-Cal Graphical Forecast

 

PACIFIC SOUTHWEST GRAPHICAL FORECAST
Graphical Weather Forecast of Sierra Nevada and surrounding areas.

Note that this cool graphical interface provides a wide range of weather data covering a large geographical area over a long  span of time.

 SIX DAY FUTURE FORECAST 

This interface is adjustable out to 6 days into the future...The Map changes to display the weather information for the category you specify by scrolling over it on the sidebar list to the Left of the map, which lays out the different aspects of weather conditions we can view graphically. 

This presentation is excellent for getting a good, clear idea of changing conditions over the total span of 7 days and nights along the length of the Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trails in the North Sierra, and the John Muir and PCT in the South Sierra.

For detailed recent and current conditions see the specific reporting stations from key locations along our route below:  
 

Real-Time
Ground Reporting Stations

TRACK CONDITIONS ACROSS AND ALONG THE SIERRA CREST

SNOTEL

Actual High Sierra Snow, Rain, and Temperature Information from Ground Reporting Stations all along the Sierra Crest and Flanks
 
RIGHT NOW

Click the Images to open new window

 SNOTEL sites in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Current Conditions, Temperatures, and Snow Depths from an extensive web of High Sierra reporting stations.

Click the SNOTEL station data you want to view, then the "7-day report" to view current snow and temperature conditions.

Above:
View Federal list
All California SNOTEL Sites

NEW
SNOWTEL SITE

Two Fed Systems 

The Fed list above is better organized and offers easier access to a range of Sierra Nevada information than California's ground reporting station system, but it falls far short of the extensive coverage of the Mesowest System.

Of the Fed systems,
I prefer Mesowest,
which is the second resource below.

 California Department of Water Resources  

  Note that the California State System has lots of "monthly" reporting stations that are not good for backpackers desiring current snow, temp, and rainfall conditions. Yet California does have lots of real-time reporting stations as well, so check them out.

 The monthly reporting stations are irrelevant for current backpackers, while the real-time stations provide timely valuable snow depth and temperature information.

Always Changing 
A new federal reorganization of their various reporting, presentation, and formatting of ground reporting stations is under way (2013-14) so I expect to see how these various organizations display information to continue changing...

Just to be clear, the NWS and NOAA weather tools are
always changing.

 CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES

Real and "Point in Time" Reports

California real time weather reporting stations.

Above: View California State, CDEC Station Locator Map.

California's system is comprehensive but plagued with data collection, presentation, and navigation issues. They appear to be working on these issues, so this interface is improving.

 (NOTE: Has improved as of Early 2014. )
(Oct. 2014 update: COOL NEW SYSTEM, same old spotty data...)

  Navigate the map above to your desired location in the High Sierra. This will locate the stations in the visible portion of that particular map quadrant along our trails. Read the selected station data for current, recent, and historical weather conditions.

The monthy station reports are mainly used to measure the snowpack and its water content at specified dates for water/runoff prediction purposes, not to read out current conditions for us backpackers.

The automated  real time reporting stations do. They read out report snow depth, temperature, wind, and moisture levels which are valuable bits of backpacker and skier information.

 

MESOWEST

Real Time Ground Reporting Stations

MESOWEST NORTH SIERRA
Mesowest stations in the North Sierra.

Above:
View Federal Mesowest Station Map, Northern California.

A fantastic system. Check it out!

Scroll our mouse over various MESOWEST stations to view basic data from each, then click the station to see its extended report.

Above is the Northern California Mesowest Map, below is the link to the SoCal map:

 MESOWEST SOUTH SIERRA
Mesowest Southern Sierra reporting stations.

Mesowest Station Map
Southern California.

Also See:
All CALIFORNIA REPORTING STATIONS

Mesowest National Map

The Mesowest system is excellent. Mesowest is well-organized and well stocked with real time reporting stations across the High Sierra and foothills.
But it is spotty for great lengths of the main PCT and TYT along the Sierra Crest.

Nonetheless, scrolling around the Mesowest Reports is the best way to see how conditions and temperatures vary across the Sierra, and are dependent on elevation and aspect of the reporting station.
   Mesowest can provide enough information to develop good inferences about conditions at a range of aspects and elevations along the Sierra Crest.
 

METAR Stations in California

METAR Data Northern California

METAR Data Southern California

 A weather reporting system for  pilots, but it may have a reporting station you are interested in.

 

 

Satellite 
Weather Observation

The Bird's Eye View far over the Horizon
Global Satellite System

NORTH AMERICA

 GOES Pacific Satellites List

All NOAA Satellite Resources

 

EUROPE
Meteosat 0 degree Imagery

Europe and Africa


 

ASIA
Japan Meteorological Agency

West Pacific, Asia and Australia

 

 

Real-Time
North Pacific and Western-US Satellites 

Click the Image to open Satellite Video in a new tab

GMT NOW         PST NOW

 NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

 List 
 Western US Satellites:
NWS US Satellites List.

Note on
Satellite Imagery

Satellite
 Weather Tutorials and Edu information
 

1-2 KM (sic) VISIBLE
View of the Sierra Nevada:

National Weather Service 1 KM Satellite looking down at the Sierra Nevada Mountains for backpackers.
NWS VISIBLE 3 Km
Western US animation

GMT NOW

MAGNIFY THESE SATELLITE ANIMATIONS IN YOUR BROWSER

4 KM VISIBLE
View of Sierra in Western US
4 KM visible satellite animation of Western United States centered on the Sierra Nevada.NWS VISIBLE 4 Km
Western US animation

Also See
Western US/Eastern Pacific Satellite

 

GMT NOW

Compare the Satellite Views above and below with the animated
Continental US Surface Map and the North Pacific Surface Forecast Map. Contrast the Satellites and Surface Maps with the Earth set to Wind at 500 mb with the Mean Surface Pressure overlay to observe and identify the forces at play.

4 KM VISIBLE
View of Northwestern United States
4 KM visible satellite view of Sierra Nevada in relation to Northwest United States.

NWS VISIBLE 4 Km
Northwestern US animation

GMT NOW


  8 KM VISIBLE

SATELLITE DEPRECIATED
 SEE
NEW
TROPICAL PACIFIC VISIBLE LOOP

Southwestern United States Centered on the High Sierra
8 KM visible satellite view of Southwestern United States centered on the Sierra Nevada.

 

OLD
NWS VISIBLE 8 KM
Southwestern US-SE Pacific animation

 

GMT NOW

Compare the two Satellite Views above with the North Pacific Surface Map. Contrast the Sat View against the surface map then check them both against the Future Forecast Models to use our perspectives to track and come to some understanding of the dynamics of weather.

Future Forecast Models

 

The Grand Context: 
EARTH
 Use "Earth's"  graphical interface to identify the pressure zones and winds driving the weather we identify from the Satellites.


 NWS INFRARED 4 KM
Southwestern US animation

  Satellite Imagery 

 

 

SATELITE BELOW DEPRECIATED
see

NEW
GOES-West Full Disk Water Vapor

OLD DEPRECIATED   
NWS 28 KM
WATER VAPOR
Satellite Animation of North Pacific Ocean.

SATELITE BELOW DEPRECIATED
28 KM water vapor satellite of whole North Pacific Ocean.

NEW
GOES-West Full Disk Water Vapor

 

OLD DEPRECIATED 
NWS 28 KM Water Vapor Satellite Animation of North Pacific Ocean.

NWS INFRARED 28 Km North Pacific & Western US animation

 

GMT NOW

 Compare the Satellite Views above and below with the 
North Pacific Surface Map

MAGNIFY THE SATELLITE VIDEOS ABOVE AND BELOW IN YOUR BROWSER

 

SATTELITE BELOW DEPRECIATED
SEE
GOES-West 16km Water Vapor - IR 3

 

16 KM Central-East Pacific and West US
DEPRECIATED
Satellite view of Western US and Northeast Pacific water vapor from 16 KM in orbit.

Also See
Goes West 16km Water Vapor IR3 LOOP

 

NWS THREE 24 hour Sat Views of USA:
Visible, Infrared, Water Vapor

 

NWS US Satellites List.

The satellite videos all magnify in our browsers
for as close inspection as the resolution allows.

 

GOES 

GOES: Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites
part of
NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 Northeast Pacific
Water Vapor Loop

National Weather Service Satellite image of Northeast Pacific - Water Vapor Loop. 

Animation above: GOES Northeast Pacific. Water Vapor Loop.

MAGNIFY THESE SATELLITE VIDEOS IN YOUR BROWSER

GOES Northeast Pacific - Infrared Channel 2

GOES Northeast Pacific-Infraed Rainbow

GOES Northeast Pacific - Visible

GMT NOW

Satellite Imagery

Each GOES animation offers overlays depicting
wind, fronts, storms and pressures.

   HDW-low: Wind from surface to 10,000 feet.    700 mb = 9882 feet
  HDW-mid: Wind from 10,000 to 20,000 feet.    550 mb = 15 962 feet
  HDW-high: Wind from 23,000 to 50,000 feet.    200 mb = 39 000 feet 

SST: Sea Surface Temperture
Coastal United States

    GOES Pacific Satellites List
Pacific Ocean and Western U.S

  Check the GOES index page for all GOES satellites.

 The satellite list links to infrared and visible light animations as well as the water vapor animations shown above and below. 

Symbology
Weather Termonolgy & Symbols
 


Animations Legend

Time of Forecasts and Predictions

GMT NOW

Satellite Imagery

  Compare the Satellite Views above and below with the
North Pacific Surface Map
.  

  GOES 

 Western U.S. -  East Pacific
Water Vapor Loop 

GOES West water vapor satellite video.

Big Picture Weather Animation: GOES Western US. Water Vapor Animation.

GOES Western U.S. - Infrared

GOES Western U.S. - Rainbow Infrared

GOES Western U.S. - Visible

GMT NOW

Satellite Imagery

Each GOES animation offers overlays depicting
wind, fronts, storms and pressures.

 HDW-low: Wind from surface to 10,000 feet.    700 mb = 9882 feet
  HDW-mid: Wind from 10,000 to 20,000 feet.    550 mb = 15 962 feet
HDW-high: Wind from 23,000 to 50,000 feet.    200 mb = 39 000 feet 

SST: Sea Surface Temperture
Coastal United States

    GOES Pacific Satellites List.
Pacific Ocean and Western U.S

 The satellite list links to infrared and visible light animations as well as the water vapor animations shown above and below. 

Check the GOES index page for all GOES satellites.

 

Compare the Satellite Views above and below with the animated
Continental US Surface Map.
-and with-
  The Grand Context: 
EARTH
 Use "Earth's"  graphical interface to identify the pressure zones, winds,  temps, humidities, composing and driving the weather we identify from the Satellites. We can also observe graphical representations of cloud and precipable water, among other weather phenomenon.
Earth offers an amazing tool to compare, contrast, and draw together and understand the relationships between various aspects of weather. 

Upper Air "Average" Altitude Pressures
925 mb = 2500 feet
 850 mb = 5000 feet
  500 mb = 18 000 feet   
  250 mb = 35 000 feet  
  200 mb = 39 000 feet

SEE BELOW FOR
FULL PRESSURE CHART 

  

  GOES Composite - Northern Hemisphere Imagery

Continental  U.S.
Water Vapor Loop 
 

GOES Composite - Northern Hemisphere Imagery - Water Vapor Loop

Very Big Picture Weather Animation: Contenental US FLASH Water Vapor Animation.

Compare the Satellite Views above with the animated
Continental US Surface Map.

GOES Composite - Central U.S.- Visible

GOES Composite - Central U.S. - Infrared

GOES Composite - Central U.S. - Infrared Rainbow

GMT NOW

Satellite Imagery
 

MAGNIFY THE SATELLITE VIDEOS IN YOUR BROWSER

GMT NOW         PST NOW

Each GOES animation offers overlays showing
wind, fronts, storms and pressures.

 HDW-low: Wind from surface to 10,000 feet.    700 mb = 9882 feet
  HDW-mid: Wind from 10,000 to 20,000 feet.    550 mb = 15 962 feet
  HDW-high: Wind from 23,000 to 50,000 feet.    200 mb = 39 000 feet 

SST: Sea Surface Temperture
Coastal United States

GOES Continental US Satellites List

 GOES Pacific Satellites List
Pacific Ocean and Western U.S

Check the list for the infrared view.

  Check the
GOES index page
for all GOES satellites.

 

Satellite Lists
NWS US Satellites List

 GOES Pacific Satellites List
Pacific Ocean and Western U.S

All NOAA Satellite Resources.
 

Traveling? GOES covers the entire US and the entirety of the Pacific and Alantic Oceans. Check the GOES index page for all GOES satellites. 

 

High Sierra Real-Time
RADAR Resources

Click the Images to open Radar Imagery in a new winimg height=/a are=/a dow

 All California-Nevada
Weather Radar  
Western United States radar image, including Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Above:
Big Picture California
Pacific Southwest Radar

GMT NOW         PST NOW

Click any part of the regional radar maps above to view the local radar for the area clicked. The California Radar page is linked to the National Radar Map of the whole US.

MAGNIFY THESE RADAR ANIMATIONS IN YOUR BROWSER

Radar map of storms on the West Coast of the United States.

 

Current
National Radar

Loop

GMT NOW 

 

 

CURRENT RADAR
   SIERRA NEVADA MOUNTAINS 

NORTH SIERRA NEVADA  RADAR  North Sierra NThe Best a name=∓/em src=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather _fcksavedurl=Weather Information available for anyone traveling to, backpackingnbsp; /ema href= /∓ href= /evada Mountain radar.

Above
View North-Central Sierra Nevada Local Radar,
Reno

Explanation
 Radar Overlays

GMT NOW         PST NOW

Current
National Radar

Loop

North California
and
Northernmost  Sierra
RADAR
Northern Calfornia and Northernmost Sierra Radar.
Beale AFB Composite RADAR

GMT NOW
 

 SOUTH 
SIERRA NEVADA  WEATHER  RADAR   South Sierra Nevada Radar.

Above
View Central-South Sierra Local Radar
San Joaquin

Explanation
of
Radar Overlays
.
 

GMT NOW         PST NOW
 

Current
National Radar
 Loop.

 

 Run the Forecast Models 
Five Day  Precipitation Forecast above One-Tenth of an Inch 

CLICK 
"Most Recent Model Run"

 

Future Forecast Models

 

 

Five Day
Animated
MAX RAINFALL

model

 

 

Five Day
 Animated
One-TENTH of an INCH

Model
 

 

 

HISTORIC RADAR
Check out the adjustable-interactive
NATIONAL RADAR TOOL 
Radar Data laid out on a National Map from 1995 to the Present.

Looking Back in Time 2005-2011
NOAA CMORPH
Daily Global Historic Precipitation Estimates

 

 CURRENT CONDITIONS
Surface Low Pressure Tracks

One Day AnimationOne Day Animated Weather Forecast 
NWS: Surface Low Pressure Tracks (1 day)

ALMALGAMATED RESOURCES
Above is an almost real-time highly detailed presentation of amalagated Radar and Surface Air Maps along with active Storm Warnings as they are gathered from the field over the course of the present day, as far as I can tell.

GMT NOW

This gives us a kind of "super-radar" providing us the with the best hints as to exactly how current regional conditions and local trends are actively playing out. This map shows "outflow boundaries" of tropical/thunderstorm activity, pressures, active radar rainfall, and bunches of interesting storm and flood warning information too.

Future Forecast Models

 

Freezing Temps

Six Day AnimationSix Day Animated Freezing Weather Forecast

 When the freezing begins, ends, and its 
likely extent are always valuable bits of weather information.

 

RAIN-SNOW
 PRECIPITATION FORECAST

Quanitative Precipatition Forecasts
Day One to Seven Forecasts

 

Seven Day Precipitation Forecast Animation
by
 SIX HOUR INCRIMENTS

 

SEVEN DAY RAIN
DAILY
Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts
Seven Day Precipitation Forecast for Sierra Nevada backpackers.
Click Map Above for 7 Day Precipation Forecasts

GMT NOW         PST NOW

Five Day Snow Forecast
Three day snow graphical snow forecast.Five Day 
Snow Forecast

CLICK 
"Most Recent Model Run"
on
 Five Day Snow and Rain Forecasts
Above and Below 

Five Day
Animated
MAX RAINFALL
model

 

Five Day
 Animated
One-TENTH of an INCH RAINFALL

Model

 

All
Future Forecast Models

 


RAIN MAPS 
Seven Day Precipitation Forecast Tool

Days 1 to 7
by 24 hour totals

24 hour precipitation total

48 hour precipitation total

72 hour precipitation total

About QPF data

 

NESDIS GOES-R
Quantitative Precipitation Estimates

Measures Rainfall up to almost the present Moment.

CONUS RAINFALL ANIMATION 
PER 15-minutes
NESDIS-1 satellite radar estimates by hour.
   NESDIS uses satellite based IR and Microwave detectors to accurately measure precipitation across the continental U.S. The image above is linked directly to the NESDIS Animation for the last six days to the last hour.

Rather than showing us what will happen, it shows us precisely what already happened.

The immediate (and long-term) past offer good insights to figure out what will happen in the immediate future.

CONUS RAINFALL
PER 15 minutes

Click the link above to link to the NESDIS page. Here you can view specific images or video timelines.
On the page above select the "12 hour" link, then "Animate this product." A new page will load. Select "Loop," and the animation will load the images in a clunky fashion. After loading it runs smoothly displaying the last five days of precipitation up to the current hour.

Otherwise just click the graphic image above and let the link load to watch the last few day's precipitation up to almost the current moment.

NESDIS project description.

NESDIS Setup Page



 FORECASTS and REALITY
vs
AVERAGES

 Below we find precipitation information to instruct us about current behaviors and future trends and exactly how they are setting-up against past averages.

PRECIPITATION (mm) Forecasts
NCEP/GFS Bias-Corrected ForecastsNCEP Precipitation Forecasts for US and South America.

 NWS

Climate Prediction Center
PRECIPITATION MONITORINGNational Weather Service Precipitation Monitor

 

 

FUTURE
PRECIPITATION AND TEMPERATURE
PROBABILITIES

 

CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTERUS climate prediction center.

Above: The "old" Climate Prediction Centerat NOAA offers probabilities of Temperature and Precipation for the United States from six days to three months into the future, along with weather hazard and drought assesments. Below we find the "new" digatal presentation of projected precipitation and temperture trends.

NEW CPC InterfaceHigh Sierra and US Temperature and Precipitation Probabilities. 
CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER
 These resources are where the National Weather Service orginates Dought, Flood, and Freeze warnings for the upcoming week, month, quarter, and season while tracking the trajectory of conditions during the current season.

From this page we can find all the current medium and long term predictions for rain, snow, frost, drought, and storms. Check it out. This is a good one to keep an eye on. It gives clues about the overall context our current weather trends are working within.

Though not as reliable as shorter-term forecasts these long-term predictions may alert us to the potential range of extreme (or gentle) conditions we could encounter beyond the scope of  the typical six-day weather forecasts. It is good to know how the general conditions are trending. 

Folks planning an early-season start for their Pacific Crest Trail attempt will want to keep a close eye on the evolution of late-Winter weather and snowpack conditions into Spring, and the projected weather trajectory of Spring to determine when the snow will clear from the high passes, or the point when their level of skills will let them into the High Sierra Mountains. 

Between the long term predictions and shorter-term forecasts presented here, supplemented by our orbital satellite eyes in the sky looking "over the horizon," combined with our regional views through comprehensive radar assests down to our "on the spot' real-time High Sierra ground station reports, we should be able to at least figure out the range of weather conditions and  tempertures we can possibly encounter in the High Sierra during the first seven days of time our backpacking trip covers.

Beyond the 7 days we can fairly accurately predict an expected range of future weather that we can use to get a good handle on this season's character and weather trends sufficiently to gear ourselves properly to deal with them.

These resources are especially important for those of us doing the long term planning required to hike the Pacific Crest, John Muir, Tahoe to Yosemite, or Tahoe to Whitney trails.

  Tracking each season's patterns of additions and subtractions to the Sierra Snowpack as Spring approaches will eventually give us a pretty good idea of when the high trails over mountain pass will first be open, then totally clear of snow.  Observing the timing and evolution from Winter through Spring informs us as to the temperture trends, their ranges, and gives us a basic idea about the character of the upcoming Summer.

Then Nature surprises us!

The recent trend for the last 20 years has been towards more abrupt Winters, shorter and earlier Springs, and longer dry Summers.

The weather information on this page tells us if we should anticipate an early, average, or late clearing of the Winter snows from the High Sierra. The resources on this page can tell us what conditions to prep for, and this informs us as to what gear we must pack to cover the range of potential conditions we observe are possible. 

 Good weather information also gives us an idea of when drying conditions will cause the mosquito populations to fall, water availability, and so on.

From understanding the potential character and range of High Sierra Weather that can blow in during the span of our backpacking trip,  we always ask ourselves, "What if something bad blows in unexpectedly?"

"What's the worse weather that can blow in?"

Once we're sure we can handle the expected range of conditions our thoughts must turn to the unexpected.

I like to know that I will survive the worse possible conditons because the thermal protection provided by wearing all my gear in my tent in my sleeping bag is sufficient to deal with the worse weather that can blow in.
 

 History can be our guide:
Below we can look at the span of our trips weather history back to 1995.

HISTORIC RADAR
Check out the adjustable-interactive
NATIONAL RADAR TOOL 
 Radar Data laid out on a National Map from 1995 to the Present.

The historic RADAR shows storm-precip. activity on given dates.

Our national Radar Tool is supplemented by global information:
Looking Back in Time at every day's PRECIPITATION:
2005-2011

NOAA CMORPH INFO 

Daily Global Historic Precipitation Estimates
2005-2011


 
 

BIG PICTURE WEATHER 

Weather Prediction and Analysis Tools

ON THIS PAGE
Click all the Images on this page to open the associated
Weather Tools, Forecasts & Maps
in a new tab

 

US Surface Weather Maps

NWS Big Picture Weather Maps. These classic weather maps below project US pressure, front, and storm conditions six days into the future in daily intervals, with the first two days issued in 12-hour intervals. 

The NWS currently has three excellent animated weather maps we can profit from, one for the continental US, another for the whole North Pacific Ocean, and the third focused on the East Pacific Ocean, off the West Coast of the United States. All three are linked to below.

 I strongly suggest the 96 hour Pacific Ocean Loop be compared with the US loop, then both considered through the perspective imparted by the various flavors of satellite imagery.
Combining these perspectives gives us powerful tools to understand developing conditions.

Weather Fronts and Precipitation MapsFronts and precipitation weather map.

Above: NWS Big Picture Current 12 hour surface fronts-precipitation Map. These detailed surface weather maps project conditions two days into the future by 12 hour intervals:

24 Hour Fronts       36 Hour Fronts         48 Hour Fronts

Weather Maps are made daily covering Day three to Day six:

Day 3 Fronts     Day 4 Fronts      Day 5 Fronts      Day Six Fronts 
 

Information
 About Weather Maps.

Arizona State:
Reading Upper Air Maps

Explanation of Symbols
  Used on Weather Maps.


 

Five Day  Precipitation Forecast
Greater than One-Tenth of an Inch
 
CLICK 

"Most Recent Model Run"

 

All
Ocean Prediction Center
products
 

ANIMATED SURFACE WEATHER MAP
 Seven Day Animated Pressures, Fronts, and Weather Forecast
Six Day Animated Weather Forecast 

This is a very cool presentation. Slow it down and study how the experts see atmospheric pressure waves moving across the United States over the span of a week.

Current CON USA Satellite Water Vapor View

Seven Day Animated Surface Weather Map Forecast


   The US animated weather map is a bit frustrating for us West Coast backpackers, as our view of the Pacific Ocean, where our Sierra Weather is brewing and stewing up for our future enjoyment, is cut off. Below we find the solution: The North Pacific Ocean Analysis of the National Weather Service's  Ocean Prediction Center

The JAVA versions of the Surface Maps below can be MAGNIFIED in your BROWSER!

NORTH PACIFIC 14 DAY SURFACE LOOP with 96 HOUR FORECAST
Pacific Ocean animated weather map with Western United States.

  I suggest clicking "Flash loop," and "play loop below" to get the smoothest operation out of the animation graphics. I currently prefer the JAVA loops because they can be magnified in my browser.

Current North Pacific Satellite Water Vapor View

  The Grand Context: 
EARTHGraphical Representation of Planatary Weather. Use "Earth's"  graphical interface to identify the pressure zones, winds,  temps, humidities, composing and driving the weather we identify from the Surface Map above. We can also observe graphical representations of cloud and precipable water, among other weather phenomenon.
  FULL PRESSURE CHART 
Earth offers an amazing tool to compare, contrast, and draw together and understand the   various aspects of wind, temp, pressures, humidity depicted together.

I like to set up Earth and the animated North Pacific Animated Loop Map to compare and contrast the perspectives our maps, satellites, and radar tools give us of almost every aspect of our weather. 

A broader perspective and expanding, deeper understanding of the amazing nature of our weather can rise from putting all these amazing perspectives together.

 The very instructive and informative Surface Maps above and below come from the Pacific Ocean Analysis of the National Weather Service's  Ocean Prediction Center

EAST PACIFIC 14 DAY SURFACE LOOP
East Pacific weather map animation anticipates conditions in the High Sierra.

 

Below we have the current snapshot of the North Pacific Ocean and the Western United States.

North Pacific Ocean Surface Weather Map
Pacific Ocean Weather Map and Animations for Backpackers

The weather map above of the "Whole North Pacific"  is the most current  highly detailed  version of the animated maps above. 

North Pacific 14 day loop 96 hour Forecast animated surface weather loop

All
Ocean Prediction Center
products

EARTH
a visualization of global weather conditions
forecast by supercomputers
updated every three hours
(AMAZING)
 

Surface Weather Map Animations

USA seven day animated weather map loop

East Pacific 14 day animated weather map loop

North Pacific 14 day loop 96 hour Forecast animated weather loop

 

All Pacific Ocean Graphical Forecasts
Ocean Prediction Center

 

Weather Termonolgy & Symbols

Animations Legend

 

Time of Forecasts and Predictions 

The High Sierra is in the PST zone, which is 8 hours earlier than Zulu Time.

More Time Information

GMT NOW         PST NOW

 

GLOBAL PRESSURE ANOMALIES 
Note how the level of the 200 mb zone rises and falls in altitude
on this 200 mb height anomalies animation below.
 How the 200 mb pressure level shifts in altitude

200 mb Global Anomalies
Wind anomalies at 39,000 feet of altitude.

Air and wind altitudes are measured at points of pressure, rather than a set altitude. These pressures roughly coorelate with altitudes, but vary with pressure changes due to vast pulses of high and low pressure zones like moving links of a chain consisting of  rising zones of heating and  vortexes of cooling differential zones sliding around the planet.

Fascinating.

 1013 mb = mean sea level 
1000 mb = 264 feet 
 950 mb = 1773 feet 
925 mb = 2500 feet
  900 mb = 3243 feet 
850 mb = 5000 feet
  800 mb = 6394 feet 
 750 mb = 8091 feet  
 700 mb = 9882 feet  
 650 mb =  11 780  feet
 600 mb = 13 801 feet
 550 mb = 15 962 feet
500 mb = 18 000 feet
450 mb = 20 812 feet
400 mb = 23 574 feet
350 mb = 26 631 feet
300 mb = 30 065 feet
250 mb = 35 000 feet
200 mb = 39 000 feet
150 mb = 44 647 feet
100 mb = 53 083 feet

Note on Pressures Above
The International Civil Aviation Organisation's International Standard Atmosphere [ ISA ] provides a fixed standard atmospheric model used for many purposes among which are the uniform assessment of aircraft performance and the calibration of some aircraft instruments. The model is akin to the average condition in mid-latitudes but contains the following assumptions
dry air is assumed throughout the atmosphere 
the mean sea level pressure = 1013.25 hPa 
the msl temperature = 15 °C [288 K] 
the tropopause is at 36 090 feet [11 km] and the pressure at the tropopause = 226.3 hPa 
the temperature lapse rate to 36 090 feet = 6.5 °C per km or nearly 2 °C per 1000 feet 
the temperature between 36 090 and 65 600 feet [20 km] remains constant at –56.5 °C.
 

Above Referenced from
PilotFriend.com 
Excellent Cloud Info from Pilot Friend too.

The pressure anomaly maps above and below show the anomalies as the altitudes of the pressure zones rise and fall in relation to changes in density.

Below we have a view of the differentials in the altitudes of the 500 mb pressure zone circulating around the North Hemisphere. 500 mb roughly relates to  around 18,000 feet of elevation, and is referred to as the Steering Level for its importance in directing storms.

500 mb North Hemisphere Anomalies
Varations in height of 500 mb zone around North Hemisphere.
 

 

El Nino-Southern Oscillation

All ENSO Products

Current
 Global Tropics Hazards and Benefits Outlook Discussion

 

Global
 Sea Surface Temperatures and Anomalies

Global sea surface temperatures and anomalies animation.
  Also See the
200 mb and 500 mb global pressure anomalies.
and
Global Thunderstorm Activity.

Pressure anomalies and thunderstorm activities dance on El Nino heat.

CENTRAL PACIFIC
Weekly Sea Surface Temperatures
Weekly Sea Surface Temperatures

More Sea SurfaceTemperature Information
GOES Satellite-Derived Sea Surface Temperatures 

  All El Nino Southern Oscillation Products

 

CENTRAL PACIFIC
OUTGOING LONGWAVE RADIATION ANOMALIES

Outgoing Longwave Radiation Anomalies in the Central Pacific.
Increased or dense areas of diminished Outgoing Longwave Radiation are indicative of Tropical Thunderstorm activity associated with El Nino surface and subsurface water heating.
  These Tropical Thunderstorms in turn generate anomalious Westerly Winds that can carry great flows of tropical moisture generated by these hot water storms Eastward to the US of A.

  200 mb and 500 mb global pressure anomalies.

MJO DATA

 Mid Central Pacific 5000 foot altitude Wind Anomalies5000 foot altitude mid-Pacific anomalies.

Above and below we see reports from zones where Pacific Ocean heating fuels tropical storms driving winds that loft and push vast tropical flows of moisture towards the West Coast of the USA.

The ENSO team looks for signals of an active El Nino by tracking Central Pacific hot spots, the storms above them, and the winds born out of these storms that can drive potential skies literally full of water towards the parched & flooded valleys, mountains, and plains of North America.

 All El Nino Southern Oscillation Products
 

 

Mid-Central Pacific 39000 foot wind Anomalies39,000 foot mid Pacific Ocean wind anomalies

  All El Nino Southern Oscillation Products

Below we see thunderstorms revealing an important part of the mechanism of ocean heating that launches the Westerly winds loaded with tropical moisture depicted above.

3 Day Global IR Temps
Three day global infrared animation.

 El Nino events are indicated by T-storms shifting towards Indonisia from the Central Pacific, which these animations above and below observe.

OLD VERSION OF GLOBAL 48 HOUR OLR

Global IR DATA

Check out this informative essay about  monitoring Intraseasonal Oscillations, and how they affect regional weather while being interwoven into global weather patterns.

Also see the Monitoring Intraseasonal Oscillations products page for a bunch more interesting observations.

   And the
200 mb and 500 mb global pressure anomalies.

 

U of Arizona
Reading Upper Air Maps

 

Time of Forecasts and Predictions

GMT NOW         PST NOW
 

Surface and Upper Air Maps Jet Stream and Surface Winds
We are going off the deep end now. Or, should I say, flying higher? I watch and learn, then gather new tools, and watch and learn more.

It is interesting to start studying higher and lighter slices of the sky through the Upper Air Maps after we start using Surface Maps to good effect. We should weave in each level of analysis, and the tools required to entertain them, as our understanding of weather influences and behaviors increase. Here then, are the Upper Air Maps:

NWS
Surface and Upper Air Maps
INDEX

Instruction-Information 
U of A:
Winds, Charts, and Upper Air Maps

UW:
Discussion of 3 Levels of Atmosphere

U of A:
Reading Upper Air Maps

 

35,000 Feet

 7 Days of Winds at 35,000 feet
250 MB
Surface winds and pressures across United States.
35,000 foot wind flows. 250 mb.
All Pressures

 Note how the level of the 200 mb zone rises and falls in altitude
on this 200 mb height anomalies animation below.
 How the 200 mb pressure level shifts in altitude

200 mb Global Anomalies
Wind anomalies at 39,000 feet of altitude.
Below we have a view of the differentials in the altitudes of the 500 mb pressure zone circulating around the North Hemisphere. 500 mb roughly relates to  around 18,000 feet of elevation, and is referred to as the Steering Level for its importance in directing storms.

500 mb North Hemisphere Anomalies
Varations in height of 500 mb zone around North Hemisphere.

Also See:
El NIno Sea Surface Temps and Anomolies, above.
-and-
ALL CPC INTERSONAL OSCILLATIONS

18,000 Feet

Many weather systems (storms) follow the winds at this level, bringing the 500 mb level the title of the STEERING LEVEL

7 Days of Winds at 18,000 feet
500 mb500 mb US high level winds 7 day animation.
 500 mb = 18 000 feet

Introduction to 500 mb maps

All Pressures

What do we use as a reference point when we look at the altitudes of the 500 mb pressure level on the map above?

We compare the altitudes we see on our current Upper Air Maps with the monthly average for that specific level of pressure between 1981 and 2010.

Monthly/Seasonal Climate Composites

UPPER AIR AVERAGE PRESSURES
A Standard for Understanding Current Measurements
On the page above we can generate charts showing average altitudes all of the Upper Air Pressures depicted here for every month of the year.

Using this information we can determine how our current readings are diverging from the 1981 to 2010 average. This in itseff under-estimates change because of the radical changes in the weather patterns that had already occured by 1981, and have increased to 2016.
 We are in effect comparing our altered current conditions with past averages skewed by the already-changed atmospheric conditions existing from 1981 to 2010. Such is life...

Nonetheless, checking the historical altitudes of the Upper Air Pressures mapped out here for every month of the year gives us a historical baseline. 

Here's how: Navigate to the page linked-to above. Click the "Create Plot" button at the bottom of the page linked to above for this month's 1951-1981 pressure averages. Totally cool. A rock-solid reference. Use it!

We can compare current pressures and temps with the earlier or more recent periods of  long term averages for all the Upper Air Maps here by so-adjusting the Climate Composite Generator.

 Again, totally cool. What a geek I've become, as you should too, to understand the dramatic destructive forces of radical change moving rapidly through the atmosphere and weather..

Heights and Altitudes

10,000 Feet 

7 Days of Winds at 10,000 feet
700 mbWinds at 10,000 feet across the US
 10,000 foot wind flows. 700 mb. 

 

5,000 Feet 

 7 Days of US 5000 foot Winds
850 mb 
One week animation of US winds at altitude of 5000 feet.
 5,000 foot wind flows. 850 mb.

  All Pressures

2,500 Feet 

7 Days of Winds at 2,500 Feet
925 mb 

2500 foot altitude across the US for seven days.
 2,500 foot wind flows. 925 mb.  

Wind is measured at points of pressure, rather than a set altitude.

925 mb = 2500 feet
  850 mb = 5000 feet 
  500 mb = 18 000 feet   
  250 mb = 35 000 feet  
  200 mb = 39 000 feet 
All Pressures

The above elevations are more estimates than the precise altitude where the specified pressure occurs. The current Upper Air Maps of the various pressures depict the altitude distribution of each specified pressure. 

  NWS
Surface and Upper Air Mapsstrong href=
 INDEX

U of A: Winds, Charts, and Upper Air Maps

U of Arizona: Reading Upper Air Maps

U of A: Introduction to 500 mb maps

UW: Discussion of 3 Levels of Atmosphere

 

Unisys: Reading Upper Air Maps 

Monthly/Seasonal Climate Composites

 

Future Forecast Models 
 

 

 Surface Low Pressure Tracks

One Day AnimationOne Day Animated Weather Forecast 

NWS: Surface Low Pressure Tracks (1 day)

 

 

Freezing Temps

Six Day AnimationSix Day Animated Freezing Weather Forecast 

This nifty animation is worthy of study. Note that it does not track freezing tempertures themselves, but predicts the likelyhood of freezing temps across the Continental United States.
   Watch this at the end of Fall to determine when freezing tempertures return, and then rise again at the beginning of Spring. This tool helps us to determine when freezing begins and ends every year.

NWS: Probability of Surface Freezing (6.5 days)

 

All of the daily interval Weather Maps out to six days and the 12 hour interval Weather Maps out to two days are available from the Weather Maps page.

 

Information
about Weather Maps.

Explanation of Symbols
 used on Weather Maps.
 

Time of Forecasts and Predictions

GMT NOW         PST NOW

 

Weather Termonolgy & Symbols

All Surface Symbols

 

(OFF-Season Snow Data)

 

Weather Information 
Instruction

National Weather Service online school for Weather
INDEX 

The NWS instructional information is excellent. Except for the lightening safety info, which is next to worthless. No, I don't/can't  "stay indoors." What buffoons. High Sierra Backpackers can be 9+ days' hike from any structure.

This means we've got to have a plan for lightening. Doc Doswell puts all the best information and common sense all together in one place. On the bottom of the page we have our observation and prediction tools.

Doc Doswell's
Backpacker Lightening Safety Tips

Mountain Safety
LIGHTENING
Resources
Below
&
Account: A Set of Bad Options

 

INFORMATION 
Explanation of Simple Weather Map Symbols

 

Weather Termonolgy & Symbols

All Surface Symbols

 

Satellite Imagery

U of Arizona: Reading Upper Air Maps

 

EDUCATION
National Weather Service
Online Weather School

 

University of Arizona
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
ATMO 336: Weather Climate and Society 

 

Great Weather Documentary Video
Earth from Space

 

Time of Forecasts and Predictions

GMT NOW         PST NOW

The High Sierra is in the PST zone, which is 8 hours earlier than Zulu Time.

More
Time Information

 

  

High Sierra Winter Storm Warnings

NWS Reno

NWS Sacramento

NWS Hanford

NOAA NWS
National Storm Prediction Center

High Sierra Warnings are issued by nearest local NWS office, listed North to South above. Scroll down list for all nearby warnings. The last link is the page where all local warnings are consolidated. NOAA and NWS web interfaces have evolved and improved signifigantly over the last 5 years.   

NWS
National Hazard Map
 

 7-Day National Weather Service High Sierra Forecasts

Sierra Nevada Mountain Weather Global Tropics Hazards and Benefits Outlook Discussion About Weather Maps Zones
tailored for backpackers

 

 

NORTH SIERRA
Nevada Weather Forecast

LAKE TAHOE REGION 
Weather Forecast
Click all the Images below to open resource in a new tab

Sierra Crest Covering the Main Trails from Truckee almost down to Sonora Pass

Sierra Nevada Mountain Weabr //strong/prtecenter/sites/all/default/files/three-day-global-ir-animation.jpg
rtecenter href=
ther Forecasts.

This weather forecast covers both the Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trail routes from Lake Tahoe to Sonora Pass.

Above
North Sierra Forecast
Greater Lake Tahoe Forecast 

Hiking Maps

Desolation Wilderness

Meiss Country Roadless Area

  

 WESTERN NORTH-CENTRAL

SIERRA NEVADA
Weather Forecast  

Western Flank of Sierra Nevada from Oroville to Sonora.

Using the next two forecast zones below reveals the general weather conditions across the whole Northern Sierra Nevada.

West Central Sierra Nevada Weather Forecasts.

The two forecast zones linked to above cover the North Sierra weather from Lake Tahoe down to the Yosemite Boundary. 

Above
View North/Central Sierra weather forecast
Western Slope North Sierra South to Yosemite 

Hiking Maps

Mokelumne Wilderness

  

SIERRA NEVADA
Weather Forecast

Sierra Crest down Eastern Flank from Lake Topaz South to Bishop

  M  href=/p/emp class=a name=ono County.

 The two forecast zones linked to above covers the weather over  Eastern Yosemite down to the Silver Divide. 

Above
View East-Central Sierra Weather forecast, Mono County

Hiking Maps

Carson Iceberg Wilderness

Sonora Pass to Bensen Lake 

 

SIERRA NEVADA
Weather Forecast

West Flank from Sonora Pass to Mount Whitney
This KEY map covers the majority of the PCT and JMT route thru Yosemite South to Kings Canyon just a bit North of Mount Whitney.Yosemite Kings Canyon High Sierra Weather.

Combining the two forecast zones above reveals the weather over the Sierra Nevada between Yosemite National Park South covering most of Kings Canyon National Park.

Above
View Central-South Sierra Weather Forecast,
Yosemite to Kings Canyon Forecast 

Hiking Maps

Tuolumne Meadows

  

 SOUTH

SIERRA NEVADA
Weather Forecast

 West Flank from Mount Whitney to Lake Isabella

 Southern high Sierra weather forecasts.

The map above completes our view of the forecast zones covering the High Sierra weather over the trails described on the guide between Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney.

Above: View South Sierra Weather Forecast, Tulare County Mountains Forecast


Regional Forecasts
Central-Western United United States.
Click location on the weather map for that location's Forecast 

Future Forecast Models
CLICK 

"Most Recent Model Run"

  

 

High Sierra
Mountain Highway Status and Road Conditions

CALTRANS

Highway 89 Monitor Pass

HWY 4 Ebbetts Pass     HWY 108 Sonora Pass     HWY 120 Tioga Pass

Caltrans Mountain Road Conditions
by Region

Caltrans Mountain Road Conditions
Lake Tahoe Basin 

Caltrans Road Conditions
Enter Hwy Number.

Call
1-800-427-7623
for current Caltrans highway conditions.

   

Weather in the National Forests and Parks in the High Sierra Nevada

Tahoe to Whitney is gradually building links between the trail guide pages and the specific  weather resources and ground reporting stations on the Sierra Nevada Crest  best covering that location. 

Check the Permits page on the trail guide for links to the National Forests in the Northern Sierra. Each National Forest posts-up a "Conditions" page with some small bit of trails information, and a bunch more info about the status of  their backcountry & road conditions.

From the National Forest and Park pages we can determine who the Wilderness Ranger is, and try to hit them up for current backcountry information.
The Wilderness Rangers generally get out and ride all the trails at least once a season after the Spring Thaw to check things out and make the trail repair report.
After that the Trails Ranger is the best resource. Trails Rangers manage that National Forest's Trail Crews, so they are generally pretty up to date on current conditions. 

 

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Weather Forecasts, Reports, and Real Time Reporting Stations

Everyone always asks, so here it is:
Yosemite National Park''s  
Current Conditions page.

Other Yosemite Weather Resources

NWS Forecast
 Yosemite Valley 

Mesowest Ground Station
 Yosemite Valley

NWS Forecast
 Tuolumne Meadows

Mesowest Ground Station
 Tuolumne Meadows
 

Who's Open?

2016
HIGH SIERRA BACKPACKING CALENDAR

Memoral Day marks the opening of most, if not all High Sierra Resupply spots. Labor Day marks the beginning of the end of the Summer Season.

These Links to the Backpacker Resupply Locations between Tahoe and Whitney can help you plan the upcoming Summer's Tahoe to Whitney backpacking trip.

2015 formed up as about the earliest opening of trails-facilities-roads in history.

Having no Winter conditions to speak of, all Winter long, does that...

 2016 is as much as a freak year as '15, but being weird in quite different behaviors, so far. 

Tahoe to Whitney Resupply Resources

 

Danger-Danger
The greatest hazards in the Sierra are Lightening and Fording, in that order. Lightening is the greatest hazard, as it occurs during the height of the Summer Backpacking Season. Fording is most dangerous during the Spring Thaw.

The constant hazard of High Sierra lightening is fueled by high temps evaporating huge amounts of moisture in the San Joaquin Valley. The proper breeze blows these superheated masses of moisture rich air up the West Sierra flank, where they explode into very beauitiful and very dangerous afternoon storms.

It behooves High Sierra Backpackers to carefully observe the the general weather trends, and especially the evolution of the daily weather. If strong local cells of moisture start appearing after 11 am these may develop into very dangerous afternoon thunderstorms jumping with lightening.

If so, we must change our hiking schedule to avoid being hung out on exposed terrain after 2 pm. High Sierra lightening storms generally consolidate by 2 pm in the afternoon, and the stronger ones end with the setting Sun.

Mountain Safety
Forum

 

 More
Safety Information

Lapse Rate: 2.7 degrees per 1000 ft. average wet. This is the wet Lapse Rate, which applies to the majority of air masses blown off of the Pacific Ocean or evaporating out of The Valley. These air masses contain lots of moisture, which retards chilling as they gain elevation to cross the Sierra.

See the explanation at the bottom of the pressure chart, above, for a bit more on lapse rate assumptions. 

references for more information:
High Sierra Weather,

Tuolumne Thunderstorm,
 and
East Sierra Thunderstorm.

Dangerous Things
I warn in my Winter Gear Videos of the dangers of Eastern Continential Cold Air Masses blowing into the Sierra during the Winter. These air masses are composed of very dry frigid air moving Westward off of the Great Plains.

An ECCAM brings frigid dry air to high elevation from the East. In this case I believe the extreme cold this weather feature brings to the Sierra is partially a product of the "dry" Lapse Rate, which is 5.4 degrees per 1000 feet, as well as this air having been deeply chilled and dried out by a clear, cold High Pressure Zone over the Great Plains before moving Westward.

Winter is the time of year when understanding the possibility of a Continential Cold Air Mass coming our way out of the Great Plains becomes an important consideration packing your Winter kit.

By far the two most dangerous things in the Sierra Nevada are river fording and lightening danger. River fording is most hazardous during the Spring Thaw and early Summertime. Lightening dangers are dependent on local atmospheric conditions, mostly depending on each year's pattern of Summer Heat Storms.

Lightening National Hazard Map

www.nssl.noaa.gov/wrf/ltg3_loop.html

Lightenting probabilities.

United States Lightening  
Lightening Reporting and Predictions

NEWPacific Offshore Lightening Strike Density

Expermental Convective- Weather Forecast

Lightening-Potential Fuel Probabilities

Amazing Experimental Product
http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/wrf/ltg3_loop.html

Old, bad:
http://www.aviationweather.gov/exp/mdl_ltg/

 

Lightning Safety 

Lightning Odds-NWS

Doc Doswell's Backpacker Lightening Safety Tips



Storm Prediction Center

Cold Safety Information

NOAA:  Winter Safety Page.

NOAA: Winter Storms, the deceptive killers. (pdf)

Mountain Safety Forum


 National Weather Service Wind Chill Chart. The chart links to the NWS Wind Chill Safety Page which has more information and a Wind Chill Calculator.

 Heat Safety Information

The map and link bring us to the National Weather Service Heat Index: 95 degrees is the line.

Heat Safety Chart from the National Weather Service.

The heat safety information linked to above is vital information, especially as I observed 94 degrees in Jack Main Canyon in Yosemite on July 2, 2013. It was tough hiking. In fact I've experienced very high temperatures during daytime in the Sierra Nevada Mountains many times, followed by very cold nightime temperatures. I observed 94 degrees in Jack Main Canyon in Yosemite on July 2, 2013. It was tough hiking. In fact I had to use extreme measures to avoid problems.

Having a working knowledge of how to prepare for, identify, and deal with dangerous extremes of hot and cold serves us well. These are times when we must not just "push through," but must take timely meas wind=ures to anticipate, measure, and properly neutralize these threats.

If not, they may neutralize you.

  

2013 Winter Observations

  2012 Winrtecenter/p/forum/high-sierra-weatherstrongter Observations 

Welcome to the Fall High Sierra Reports and Analysis

2009-10 had a weak-normal Winter.
2010-2011 had a huge Winter and Spring.
2011-2012 had a very weak Winter.
2012-2013 had almost no Winter.
2013-2014 had no Winter.
2014-2015 had no Winter.
2015-2016 having Weird El Nino Winter.
 2016-2017 Starting with normal Oct Rains (rare in recent years), Weakening(?) with La Nina puttering along? NO: Strong Fall tropical storms out of SW in December complimented by huge series of tropical and storms out the West.

See the High Sierra Backpacker's Calendar.

History
Below you will find the link to my analysis of the progress of the weather into the ultra dry Winter of 2011-2012. This bone-dry Winter followed the Winter of 2010-2011, which was one of the wettest and snowiest for decades. The snowpack never totally cleared off the Sierra Crest during the Summer of 2011... 

A weak Winter brought an early opening to the the Summer of 2012.

Then the next Winter, of 2012-13 was incredibly weak, bringing another very early opening of the High Sierra trails during the Spring of 2013.

Check out the Winter through Spring Thaw of 2012 article.

2014 was the hottest, driest Winter in history, until 2015.

 

 YOUR REPORTS

You can post up your notes and experiences on this page through the comments link below, or you can post up your own page about your trip in the Seasonal Reports Forum. Post up your experiences with these dustings of snow. Everyone freaks out... 

Oct 5: notes about various parts of the trail, see the Trails Forum.


Summer 2015: Broken.

I'm still recovering from a series of  injuries and physical insults, so you guys can add to our knowledge through the comments link below, or as your own article in this, the  Seasonal Conditions Reports Forum. Only registered members can post articles.
 

2015 Spring into Summer Report

2013 Winter into Spring and Summer Observations

2013 Winter into Spring and Summer Forum

2012 Winter Observations

 
Comments-Observations-Analysis-Discussion-Experiences

(And Suggestions for More Weather Resources)

 Welcome   
 

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Hey,

I hope you all are finding these collected backpacker weather resources helpful.

I've also built a High Sierra Backpacker's Calendar to keep track of each year's evolving weather and trail conditions, and give us a tool to chart their changes from year to year.

https://tahoetowhitney.com/2017-high-sierra--backpackers-calendar.html#2

The above address is set to February (#2) of 2017. The calendars go back to 2014.

You can change the year and month to see any month back to #1 of 2014, but I have been evolving the reporting as time goes on. You will be able to adjust the address to the future as time passes.

We attempt to identify and track the major forces controlling the weather. Our goal is to find the key transition points between the Seasons, and the character of the Seasons.

During Winter we track the onset of cold, of the character of the skies from the Arctic to the Equator across the East Pacific, of the onset of snow, then track the snow depths and temp. trends. Check out the easy to use list of Sierra Crest reporting stations.

The full lists of reporting stations are linked to here:

All Reporting Stations

We'll watch the storm and temp profile as Spring approaches to identify the terrifying portions of the Spring Thaw, while watching the profile of the snow retract up the mountains until the high trails are clear. Your help would be appreciated.

Post up any good resources, observations, scouting information, and what your aching bones are telling you.

Happy Trails!

Alex

Alex Wierbinski

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