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July, the new January?

July 11th, 2015 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

After four years of drought in California snow has become a rare sight in the Sierra Nevada, but in July?! Last week an upper-level low-pressure system moved westward across California and generated thunderstorms, rain, hail, and a local dose of real snow to the Tioga Pass region, especially in the Lee Vining Creek headwaters. The area around Saddlebag Lake, in particular, received a solid coating of snow, estimated between 6-10″ in the early morning hours of July 9. The morning was reminiscent of January, except for highlights of bright green vegetation struggling through an unfamiliar white blanket. With a strong El Nino building in the Pacific, might this be a harbinger of the winter ahead? California, the Sierra Nevada, and Mono Lake are greatly in need of anything close to a normal snowpack, but as this past week illustrates, there is no normal with precipitation in California, just variability.

Mt. Dana, above Tioga Pass on July 9, 2015.

Mt. Dana, above Tioga Pass on July 9, 2015.

New snow above Saddlebag Lake

Mt. Excelsior and ridge in fresh snow behind Saddlebag Lake, July 9, 2015.

Saddlebag Lake and the Tioga Ridge

Saddlebag Lake, Shepherd Crest (upper-left) and the Tioga Ridge on July 9, 2015. Note heavy snow near the ridge and Dore Pass (from upper-middle to upper- right). Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Penstemon newberryi

Mountain Pride, Penstemon newberryi, in fresh snow, July 9, 2015. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

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7 Responses to “July, the new January?”

  1. avatar Richard Beebe Says:

    Reminds me of May 2015.

    NICE Bartshe!

  2. avatar Wally Roberts Says:

    Hopefully, this very unusual and significant weather event indicates an El Nino winter is coming. It took some unusually warm water to keep life in that tropical storm. Ramona in San Diego county received over 4 inches of rain.

  3. avatar Ron L Says:

    Was at Saddleback lake the 2nd week of June. Couldn’t believe how low the water level was. Great to see snow in the area…. hope another 15-20 ft comes this winter

  4. avatar Lory P Says:

    Ah, beautiful sight! Thanks, Bartshe!

  5. avatar Anne Sinclair Says:

    We were there before the snow came in really hot weather. Unbelievable. Saw the penstemons, paintbrushes and orchids of spring while at Mono, not found in the UK. Loved it all and so glad for the “water fall from the sky” kind regards Nanne xx

  6. avatar Jill T. Says:

    I agree there is no normal to our weather any longer. The only thing that still happens on the old schedule is the sunrise/sunset/&moon showing up. Otherwise, there is no predictable pattern to what the skies have in store for us.

  7. avatar Philippa Calnan Says:

    Wow, beautiful photos, but July?? amazing! Who knows what the future holds, freesia in February?