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.

Snow surveys reveal a good snowpack for February

Snow surveys are conducted in the Mono Basin at five locations between 9,000 feet and 11,000 feet every year around February 1st, March 1st, and April 1st. They were completed by last Thursday, and the numbers are looking good! The water content of the snowpack is 110% of average for this time of year, and 69% of the usual seasonal total on April 1st.

Although January was very dry—on par with 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2008—a wet fall resulted in more than 50% of the average annual precipitation falling by January. Usually only 30% of the precipitation in Lee Vining falls between October 1 and December 31.

Mono Lake rose slowly in January, and ended the month at 6382.05 feet above sea level—a little more than half an inch higher than at the beginning of the month. Very cold temperatures, combined with snow covering the ground and little wind, allowed poconip fog to form on more than half the days in the month.

Snow surveys elsewhere in the state found less snow than here with the exception of the Walker River (110% of average) and the Tule River (116% of average) watersheds. Aside from a storm on Thursday, the dry weather will continue, with below-average precipitation expected through April.

Sunset over the Sierra. Photo by Bartshe Miller.