Sierra mountains buried in global warming

SierraSnowblast

Buried in global warming

So much snow has fallen this winter in California’s Sierra mountains that the drought declaration, issued in 2008, has been rescinded (story here).

A drought that loomed over some of California’s most fertile farmland officially ended Wednesday after a winter of relentless mountain storms that piled snow up to three stories high and could keep some ski resorts open until the Fourth of July.More than 61 feet of snow has fallen in the Sierra Nevada high country so far this season, second only to 1950-51, when 65 feet fell, according to records kept by the California Department of Transportation. And more snow is possible in April, raising the prospect of an all-time record.

When it melts, the snow will bring relief to hundreds of communities and many farms that provide fruits and vegetables to the nation.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday repealed a statewide drought declaration made in 2008 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who called for a state of emergency in February 2009 after three years of low water levels.

Brown acted after state officials reported the water content in the Sierra snowpack at 165 percent of normal for this time of year. That is one of the wettest winters since 1970, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

The record snowfall will not only provide a respite from the drought but will also allow ski resorts to stay open longer.

Seasonal snow accumulation records already have been set at some ski resorts, including Squaw Valley USA near the north shore of Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Mountain Resort on the lake’s south side and Mammoth Mountain, the sprawling Eastern Sierra resort that attracts Southern California skiers and snowboarders.

At Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics, ski patrol guides had to create tunnels just to reach their warming huts, and avalanches broke out windows at two lift stations, said Wes Schimmelpfenning, a 68-year-old patrolman who has worked there for 48 years.

Nearly 59 feet of snow has fallen there so far this winter, beating the old record by 29 inches.

Squaw is extending its season through Memorial Day, while Mammoth, with a peak elevation exceeding 11,000 feet, might remain open through Independence Day.

Well, California needs something good to happen once in a while…

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