More than 50 ft. of snow in the Sierra, more on the way

March 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The calendar may say it's spring, but it's still winter in the Sierra.

Another storm may add up to another four feet of new snow at higher elevations.

There's been so much snow, at least three Tahoe-area ski resorts, including Sugar Bowl, have topped 600 inches for the season. That's 50 feet.

"That's a good 100 inches over our annual, and the last few years we've been averaging about 450," said Heather Granziano of Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. "We're looking at a 150-inch jump. That's definitely putting us in the top five of our annual years recorded."

For winter sports adventurers, deep snow is fun to play in, even if visibility is poor. Annoying shrubs and rocks are buried, leaving practically nothing in the way for the ride down the slopes.

"It's pretty fantastic," said skier Aaron Housak of Berkeley. "The powder is really deep. You can pretty much ski anywhere. There's not a boulder in sight."

"I'm loving it," said Keith Fox, a snowboarder from Santa Cruz. "We've gotten so much snow, the only problem is digging out."

But digging can be a chore when there's so much snow falling all the time.

Workers constantly have to clear sidewalks, paths and roadways.

There's another concern, however, when spring does actually arrive here.

The Sierra snowpack is the main source of drinking water for about 23 million Californians as it melts and flows into the state's vast reservoir and canal systems.

But too many rain storms from Hawaii, known as Pineapple Expresses, could speed up that process and cause flooding.

"Even a little rain-on-snow event above 10,000 (feet) can really have a dramatic impact on the snow melt, so we're trying to stay on top of that," said Bill Croyle of the California Department of Water Resources.

According to a weather historian, the most snow that ever fell in the Sierra that was recorded was 883 inches in 1907.


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