When world-renowned ski areas marvel at the massive amount of snow, you know something incredible is happening.
With February totals as high as 300 inches (25 feet!) now reported, this month has gone from epic to unbelievable. It’s great news for the region’s water supply, and there’s little question that skiing is going deep into summer this year.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows reported its astounding 300-inch February snow tally Wednesday morning. This bests its old monthly record of 282 inches set in January 2017.
Situated on the northwest side of the Lake Tahoe region, Squaw was in prime position to receive moisture from the latest atmospheric river that has bombarded Northern California with serious flooding. Squaw Valley has now seen snow on 18 days this month, including an incredible 38 to 40 inches on Feb. 10. Seven days have featured at least a foot and a half of snowfall.
About 30 miles to the south of Squaw Valley, Sierra-at-Tahoe has recorded its snowiest February and it is also knocking on its record for the snowiest month. Through Tuesday, the mountain picked up 237 inches of snow this February. It needs about 18 inches to tie the record for its snowiest month: 255 inches in January 2017.
At Mammoth Mountain, in the south-central Sierra, this latest round of extreme snowfall has focused to the north. That’s not stopping the snow entirely, or the snow records.
The 202 inches that have fallen this month make this the snowiest February for Mammoth, and the third-snowiest month overall. It still has a chance to bump up a notch or so. The No. 2 month is 209 inches in December 2010. In January 2017, a whopping 245.5 inches were recorded.
Not to be outdone, mega snowfalls have also piled up in parts of Oregon in recent days. This region is running above normal for precipitation over the past several weeks as well. The latest round delivered 42 inches at Mount Bachelor Ski Area in 48 hours from Sunday into Monday, according to the Statesman Journal.
Repeated heavy snowfalls have been enough to force resorts to shut down on more than one occasion this month.
In addition to the deep powder, ripping winds have been common, as have avalanches. Although this is a region known for its giant snowstorms, road crews have been having a tough time keeping up. As one example, I-80 remained closed through the mountains Wednesday morning because of the overwhelming snowfall.
While these monthly snowfall totals are hard to fathom, it seems the high marks should fall short of the snowiest month all time for the state of California. Per weather.com, Tamarack, Calif., owns the snowiest month on record in the state, when 390 inches was recorded in January 1911.
In the current case, missing that kind of record may be a function of the shortest month of the year as much as anything.
The precipitation train keeps on coming, and it is expected to continue into the near future. Two or three storms are slated to move inland from the Pacific Ocean during the first week to 10 days of March.
Given the reliance on a deep and waterlogged snow pack to keep rivers flowing and reservoirs filled throughout the year, snowfall which is 130 to 150 percent of normal and climbing is certainly great news, at least once the short-term impacts of too much precipitation at once ease.