Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

169% of average snowpack!

The April 1st snow surveys in the Mono Basin found 169% of average snowpack in the headwaters of Rush Creek and Lee Vining creeks. Snow water content ranged from 133% at Gem Lake to 187% at Ellery Lake.

A typical spring day in the Mono Basin: snowstorms edging their way over the Sierra Nevada. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

The March storms were relentless, with only nine days during the month when the Gem Pass snow pillow did not record an increase in snow water content. In Lee Vining it was our wettest March since 1995, with over 4 inches of precipitation. It was our snowiest March on record (since 1989), barely beating March 2001’s 43 inches of snowfall by 0.8 inches.

We are still waiting for the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power to release the preliminary April runoff forecast (to be finalized in May), but based on the snowpack, it might be a similar runoff year to 1998, 2005, and 2006—somewhere in the 140–150% of average range. We’ll post an update when we have more information—but Mono Lake will definitely rise a lot this year!