More epic snow scenes from my trip to the West Coast

Snow levels and snow depths by elevation. (John Gaughan)

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. – Boom! The views were spectacular and the streets had been canyons of snow for months. Entire buried to the roof line. At higher elevations, 80-foot trees appear as 20-foot bushes, barely sticking out of the snow. The markings of snow avalanches are everywhere.

By my observations, throughout California, Nevada, and Utah, at least through April 9, 2023, elevations above 8,500 feet had at least 5 feet but as much as 15 feet of solid snowpack. Higher altitudes varied depending on the slope of the terrain, but most peaks had 30-100 feet of snowpack.


And this has led to several building failures or explosions. Yes, explosions from gas build-up.

As the snow encases homes, minor leaks of gas build up inside, and a single spark detonates the gas causing severe damage to those inside the building and the building itself.

New meteorological term for your vocabulary, SWE or Snowfall Water Equivalent.

This is a measurement of melting snow in a one-inch square column, determining the water equivalent to rainfall. For example, take a 10-foot deep, that’s 120 inches, square one-inch column and melt it down. Current projections in the California Sierra Nevada mountains suggest that more than 60″ (5 feet) of rain is locked up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

This is more than what we see in an entire year here in Jacksonville. We average about 50″ of rain.

The difference is most of this potential snow melt will happen over the next three months. April through the end of June.

I will discuss the obvious impacts this will have in the next newsletter.

Back to the crazy imagery of all that snow, including this video that will blow your mind.

Snow levels and snow depths by elevation.
Despite the record winter snows below 7,000 feet, very little snow is on the ground.
There is much more water locked up in the Sierra-Nevada snow pack than Hurricane Harvey dumped on Northeastern Texas.
This avalanche occurred after they received 60" of snow in two days at the beginning of April.
Once again, at elevations above 8,000 feet, plentiful snow. The snow pack in Park City was around 3 feet as of April 9th, 2023.