Pacific Crest Trail Snow 2019
(The following looks at trail snow, not snow pack)
Summary for April 1st, 2019
For most of California it was a much above average snow year. Oregon was generally above average with some notable accumulations. Northern parts of Oregon and most of Washington saw fairly average snow.
Southern California saw above average amounts and even hinted at highest amounts in the last 15 years near Mt. San Jacinto. It's difficult to fully grasp the amount of snow using remote sensing techniques as so little of the trail passes through that area. The same can be said of Mt Baden-Powell in the Angeles Crest area which appeared to receive copious amounts of snow.
The sierra between Kennedy Meadow and Echo Lake, 396 miles, was 176% of normal (average of 42 inches SWE). In the last 15 years this was the 2nd highest snowfall behind 2017 and just edging out 2011.
Kennedy Meadow to Echo Lake, 2004 - 2019, 396 Miles
The 100 miles between Echo Lake and Sierra City (average 63 inches SWE) flirted with 2017 levels and the 50 trail miles north of Sierra City surpassed 2017 levels, with 80+ inches SWE in some areas!
Northern California, in terms of percent of average, is where the hammer dropped. Castle Crags to Seiad Valley was 275% of average (average 55 inches of SWE), with close to 400% of average at the highest elevations, just shy of 80 inches SWE in some areas! The real concern will be blow downs/trail damage in sections P and Q.
The southern sierra is of greatest interest for northbound hikers. This is the first real snowy area you will encounter. The 178 miles between Kennedy Meadow and Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) is about 200% of average.
North of VVR to Echo Lake snow is a hefty 167% of average, with an average SWE of 52 inches. Some areas maxed out above 80 inches SWE.
What the spring melt does is anyone's guess at this point. If it's an average melt you can assume snow into the end of June and beyond. Now is the time to adjust your start date. Don't get caught holed up in some trail town spending your hard earned hiking dollars. Be smart.
Flipping will not be an option. As mentioned, northern California got hammered. Given an average melt, Oregon will still be snow clogged well into June and early July. However, skipping around to the lower elevation areas of the trail will still be possible, but logistically, a pain.
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