Tracking Fall into Winter, 2019-2020, Early Season Snow


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 01 October 2019

 

 

October 12, 2019

Clear & Warm
Lite Breezes

Warm Days and Cold Nights
Potentially Very Cold Nights

GEAR NOTE
It is Time to Supplement our Fall Gear Kit
with
Elements of our Winter Gear Kit as Required by Cooling Conditions

Temperature Forecasts

Gear List

Fall Gear
Sept 27

 

 

 

October 10, 2019

Warm
Moderate Breezes

Analysis
In the Fire Section
About the Great PGE California POWERDOWN

PGE & Politics: How they Cheat us

On the
High Sierra Backpacker's Calendar

 

 

 

October 7, 2019

HOT
Lite Breezes

WEATHER HAZARDS
RENO--SACTO

RENO
Eastern Flank

--RED FLAG--
--LAKE EFFECT--

East Sierra Forecast

SACTO
Western Flank

--FIRE WEATHER--

West Flank Forecast

 

DANGER
COLD TEMPERATURES COMING

See
Temperature Forecasts

 

 

 

October 3, 2019

CLEAR & COOL
WARM AFTERNOON
Lite Breeze: Warmer Day

WARMING
Days

Potentially
COLD
Nights

 

REALTIME
High Sierra Crestline Reporting Stations
Compare
with
Temperatures

on
Sept 29

Sept 25

Aug 16th

High Sierra Calendar
First Week of October

 

 

 

September 30

COOL
Breezy, Clearing, Warming

A Touch of Snow
All Snow Resources

WINTER
WEATHER
ADVISORY

-
FREEZE
WARNING

Sacto-&-Reno

Forecast Tahoe

Forecast Crest-E Sierra

ALL HIGH SIERRA FORECAST ZONES



HIGH SIERRA CALENDAR
Stations Report



WARMING
Days

COLD
Nights

 

 

 

September 29

COOL
Breezy, Clearing, Daytime Warming

N Sierra Lite Snow

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY
-&-
FREEZE WARNING
Sacto---Reno

Forecast Tahoe

Forecast E Sierra-Sierra Crest

 

Sacto:
(West Flank)
"...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM THIS
AFTERNOON TO 5 PM PDT MONDAY ABOVE 6000 FEET..."

Reno:
(East Flank)
"...FREEZE WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM MONDAY EVENING THROUGH
TUESDAY MORNING..."

NOTE
Coming clear weather brings warm days, and the potential for very cold overnight lows.

High Sierra Calendar

 

 

 

September 28

Early Winter of 2018 Begins!?!

WINTER  WEATHER
ADVISORY
Sacto--Reno

Forecast Hwy 80

Forecast E Sierra

Sacto:
"...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM THIS
AFTERNOON TO 5 PM PDT MONDAY ABOVE 6000 FEET..."

Reno:
"..WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM TO 11 PM PDT
SATURDAY ABOVE 7000 FEET..."

High Sierra Calendar

 

 

 

September 27

2019 Fire Season Over?

COLD
HAZARD
RENO--CARSON PASS
"...STRONG COLD FRONT THIS WEEKEND WITH WELL BELOW NORMAL
TEMPERATURES INTO NEXT WEEK..."

"...with breezy winds, rain, snow,
and much colder weather returning for the weekend."

 

FULL FALL KIT
NOW REQUIRED

 

Graphical Weather Forecasts

NorCal Graphics

All Graphics

Hazards

High Sierra Calendar

 

Note
La Nina cold water conditions forming in the Southeast Pacific:
Weather Page SST & Anomalies

 

 

September 18, 2019

 

Weather Wise

Approaching Fall, 2019
Implications & Context of Early Season Snow

Originally Published After the First Two Little Storms of September 16 & 18

Trends Breaking
The previous 6 years prior to the Winter of 2017 accelerated the long trend of earlier and earlier Spring Thaws bookended by later and later Fall storms. The trend of later and later Fall storms has finally been broken this year.

Long & Short
I was observing this trend of expanding Summers and shrinking Winters for over fifteen years when this long, slow lengthening of Summer and the reciprocal shortening of Winter accelerated into the epic drought of 2012-2019.

I did not count the drought over in 2017 when most did, which was good, because of the dry Winter of 2018 that followed. I did not consider the drought over until we actually had two very wet years out of three, after the wet Winter of 2019.

July 2017
The Drought Never Ended

Tree News 2018, Tree Mortality Continues: The Drought "Gone but not Over?"

April 2019
The Great Drought is Over

Late Deluges
Even the record deluges of the Winter 2017 did not begin until late December, but would stretch out late into the Spring of 2018, bringing many, many problems and dangers for PCT, JMT, & High Sierra hikers expecting the six year trend of early Spring Sierra trail openings to continue. It did not.

Last year's deep snow season began with storms putting out the fires of our, "second," fire season that stretched through last year's Summer deep into Fall (calendar). In other words, we had very dry Fall seasons before both of 2017 and 2019's record-level heavy Winters.

Not this year.

Expectations
We had this same Spring, "problem," this year, as the Winter snows of 2018-19 kept high rivers and deep snow on the Sierra Crest deep into the Summer of 2019. These extended snow conditions found lots of hikers coming to the Sierra before conditions had moderated to within the range of their levels of gear, skills, and fitness. The, "problems," have been with Spring snows not melting early, as expected by backpackers, drawing backpackers into situations they are not geared or ready for.

Observational Fix
That's why we stress observation so intensely. Good observations assure that we know the nature and requirements of the environment we are entering, and leave little or none of our trip planning and preparations dependent upon unreasonable, "expectations."

I believe faulty expectations kill more rookie backpackers than anything else.

The recent trend controlling Spring Start Dates has been,

Driest Year
Least Precip in High Sierra History:..2015

Half Precip
Half Normal Precip:..........................2016

Wettest Year
Most Precip in High Sierra History:...2017

Half Precip
Half Normal Precip...........................2018

Very Wet Year
One and a Half Normal Precip:.........2019

Early Fall 2019
This year we are possibly seeing a reversion to the mean in late-Summer & early Fall weather. Light showers increasing through October growing into substantial Winter storms in late November was our typical weather, before this warming-drying trend took-off in the Eighties, becoming the, "new normal," deepening across the 1990s into this New Century, constantly warming until forming-up into the superdrought of its second decade.

Fire Supression
Last year we had two fire seasons, one early, one late. The late one, starting in early November (calendar), was only ended by late November storms. This year the very wet terrain from the heavy Winter prevented early fires, the temperate weather through Summer continued this suppresive trend, and now these early September storms, though light, have forstalled the formation of a second, late fire season. Well, so far, at least...

Which Way, Whey?
Will these early season storms continue, or will they temper? We've got a new, "Blob," and if this Blob contributes to forming a blocking ridge off the West Coast, the great drought will return this Winter.

(Answered: see Sept 27 update above)

Massive 2019 Blob Forms

Blob & Ridge
Will this trend continue? The formation of a,"Blob," a feature of our drought has returned, and its (unknown) relationship with the formation of the heavy ridging, "The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge," that characterized much of our drought years, has me worried.

Nov 2018
New Climate & Weather Patterns Bringing New Seasonal Patterns: "A Seasonal Blob?"

Current SST & Anomalies

If The Blob is related to the same air & sea patterns contributing to creating, "The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge," we will be in for a dry Winter this year. Otherwise, these early storms are reminisent of the weather of the '60s & 70s lining up for a nice, healthy, cold & snowy Winter out of the Northwest.

A Classic?
If this series of storms out of the Northwest continues and deepens, we have, and are now seeing, the outlines of what I'd consider a classic, "normal," evolution of Summer into Fall and Winter. But, the recent trend has been alternating annually between dry and wet years, which would make this a dry year.

Expectations
Safety First
Right now we backpackers have got to expect this Fall is producing, and will continue to produce colder, wetter conditions than those we've experienced over the past 9 years, and gear-up, train, and expect cold precipitation and snow to be our closest traveling companions. That's how I'm looking at our Summer into Fall into Winter transition situation.

Typical Backpacker Considerations:
Spring into Summer
When Will the Rivers Drop and the High Trails Open?

Present to Future
This depends on specifics of each year, if it can be characterized as a Wet Year or a Dry Year. We are now beginning our observations to ascertain the character of this Winter, to ascertain when the High Sierra trails will open next Spring.

The Seasons to Prep for

Dry as Bone: Very Early Start

Half Dry: Early Start

Normal: June-July

Wet: July-August.

The Question
What kind of Winter will this year bring?

Examples of Wet, Half Dry, & Dry Years

 

TOP

 

Observation & Analysis
Specific
We will track the snow & weather conditions to ascertain the character of the year and season, then make our gear selections, pick our start dates, meaning we've an observed understanding of the specific and particular nature of the climate-weather-terrain conditions creating the character of the weather for that year, that season, and the specific day we're planning on entering the Sierra for our Winter, Spring, and first Summer trips.

Extremes
Nature's Measuring Scale
Thus the recent run of record-setting extremes of wet and dry the High Sierra has experienced over a very short span of years has shown us the extremes of what the Sierra can throw at us, giving us vital references for planning future trips based on current observations, and how they stack-up against the driest and wettest years in High Sierra History. The historical record will be the scale against which we measure each year, and each season's behaviors...

I believe this will give us the best context on the actual status of the reality of Sierra conditions, within which we make much more successful plans than those plans based on our expectations...

Now
Always a Good Time
Now is the time for all of next year's prospective PCT hikers to begin observing the trajectory of conditions, to ascertain the type of year, the time the trails will likely open for their particular level of gear, skills, & fitness, so we will have a good idea about the conditions we will experience when they do open.

Analysis
We will compare this ongoing year with the recent run of wettest and driest seasons ever experienced in the Sierra, to best ascertain this year's character, the conditions we will encounter when we hit it, and when they will change.

Run of Extreme Years

2015 Calendar: Driest Year 

2016 Calendar: Half Normal Precip

2017 Calendar: Twice Normal Precip 

2018 Calendar: 1.5 Times Normal Precip

 

Examples of Wet, Half Dry, & Wet Years

2019 Compared with Recent Years

 

 

For Fall & Winter High Sierra Backpackers

Fall 2019
Reverting to the Mean?

Worried Al
As I was worried in 2017 about backpackers expecting the early Spring opening of the Sierra to get themselves in trouble, today I'm worried about those late season High Sierra backpackers (typically PCT section hikers, late JMTers, and folks who like empty trails, no skeeters, and cool conditions) who've been backpacking the Sierra with light, Summertime gear through October.

Late Season Hikers Beware
Specifically, I'm worried about those High Sierra backpackers who are expecting the long trend of Summer conditions pushing through Fall, to the very doorstep of Winter (as happened even during the super wet seasons of 2017 and 2019), to continue, meaning they are at risk for getting, "caught out," being deep and high in Nature without the proper gear for unexpected snow and lower temperatures, nor the proper skills to navigate when Nature, "reverts to the mean," and delivers late-Summer and early-Fall snows that fill the trail treads, and obscure all of our Summer reference points under snow.

Reinforced Summer Gear
or
Spring-Fall Kit
So today I am not pulling my Summer Gear status, as our Summer Gear for the High Sierra typically employs sufficient shelter and layering for short bursts of this type of cold & snowy weather. But, I am, at the very least, "reinforcing," the Summer Gear Status with the recommendation that our rain & snow gear, our shells, tents, and layering be sufficient to defend us against serious bursts of cold snow, and that our skill level be sufficient to maintain our route through conditions of obscured trails & landmarks.

I put it to each backpacker to decide if the full Fall-Spring kit is yet required, or if we can get by with a reinforced Summer Kit.

TOP

 

Today
High Sierra Backpacker's Calendar: Station Temps & Recent Snow

 

Gear List

The High Sierra Weather Page

 

 

 

News of Weather & Trail, September 2019

 

 

 

TOP

 

 

  

More
Nature News

 

Climate Destruction News

 

Trees

Bee News

Bear News

Spider Forum

Bird News

Small Mammals

Frogs and Reptiles

Butterfly News

 

Health and Fitness

Mountain Safety

Mosquito News

Female Trail

High Sierra History

 

Astro-Phys, Space, & Science News

High Sierra Geology News

Fish, Oceans, & Water News

Anthropocene

 

 

TOP

 

Originally Published
2019-09-18 12:59:55

Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system

Latest News: RSS FEED

Syndicate content

Support Tahoe to Whitney

The Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide and Magazine are walked, written, funded, and supported by my efforts, with the help of kindred spirits and my sister.

We offer valuable Trail Guide, Skills, Weather, News and Analysis.

My goal is to get you out to see your natural and social potential. Help me keep this unique resource accessible and expanding towards its potential. We've a lot of miles to cover ahead...

I NEED HELP!
If you feel these efforts are valuable, I'm cordially inviting you to support them, here:

 

 

I am currently working towards publishing the completed guide between Tahoe & Yosemite as an e-book, while converting this "blog" to a fine magazine format. You will like the results! Help Tahoe to Whitney reach its potential!

 

Why Support Tahoe to Whitney?
Mission Statement