Interesting Snow Chart

Ran into this rather interesting record of snow in California. Runs from 1879 to 2011. What makes it interesting? There’s a wide range to it. There is some evidence for a bit of a cycle, but there is no long term trend I can see. (You can click on it for a much larger version that’s easier to read).

Snow history of California

Snow history of California

The original is from this page:

They have a nice set of record snowfall events, too. So when we get “extreme snow” in the next few years, we can point folks at the known records for comparison (also called ‘reality check’ ;-)

What to make of it?

Well, first off, it’s pretty darned clear that CO2 isn’t doing much to California snow pack. The late 1890s / early 1920s ish area is a bit heavy, but before and after is light. (Look at the blue lines in 1925-35 and 1881 – 1889).

There’s a tiny bit of increase in snow pack size (again, the blue lines) from the 1970s to date, but not much; and ‘now’ isn’t visibly different from the 1940s, by my eye.

So, like, where’s my California Climate Change, Dude? ;-)

All I’m seeing is a whole lot of year to year variation and a bit less than the typical range, but well inside normal, lately.

Wonder if such graphs exist for any other states / countries…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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9 Responses to Interesting Snow Chart

  1. vukcevic says:

    Hi Mr. Smith
    Imprint of the Icelandic Low pressure system (the northern leg of the NAO) is found in most of the climate data in the N. H.
    I had a go using your snow chart; there is some vague correlation (of the averages) but then Sierra is long way from Iceland, and on the wrong side of the jet-stream flow.
    The really good one is the summer pressure and the compressed AMO
    but for some reason they are 11 years out of phase.

  2. Russ says:

    Reblogged this on The Next Grand Minimum and commented:
    The Sierra snow pack is influenced by the phase of the PDO and the current El Nino or La Nina condition. That means it is highly variable as the chart shows. We are now in a cool phase PDO with a neutral position on the El Nino or La Nina condition. It should be an interesting winter in the Sierra.

  3. John F. Hultquist says:

    If you take the years 1907 and 2007 and connect the tops of the blue snow depth bars with a straight line, and then extend that line into the future, you can confidently predict that there will be no snow by 2053.

    I don’t know how you missed this!
    Seriously now:
    Saw your recent comments on WUWT. Well done.

  4. crosspatch says:

    The problem with the Sierra Nevada is that the snow levels can be extremely localized. We can get dumped on at Donner Pass but not get any snow all season at Mammoth Mountain. Snow levels at one specific point aren’t useful. I would like to see a graph of overall Sierra Nevada snowpack from one year to the next.

  5. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Crosspatch is correct, that is why the Central Valley Project was started. Too bad L.A. and San Francisco is being allowed to rob the projects water while the city’s’ Eco’s have been able to stop the completion of the dams that were to add to its’ supplies. pg

  6. R. de Haan says:

    Lots of (global) snow data from the snow lab (Rutger’s University

  7. R. de Haan says:

    Other Eurpean and US weather statistics here:

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    Have you seen where Gov. Moonbeam has approved putting the Sacramento river into a tunnel under the Delta to send most of it to L.A. Land? $Billions into a hole in the ground. Any bets what will happen AFTER the hole is dug and the money spent when low water flows into the Bay cause species loss and flow stagnation? Sigh.

    @R. de Haan: Thanks!


    True, especially as the ‘atmospheric river’ landing point wanders N / S with the jet stream. OTOH, it does give a good view of change over time. One would expect that over 100 years the range and relative count of each range type would be indicative of trends / cycles. So, say, during ‘cold’ PDO Donner gets ‘low snow’ (as in the mid 70s above) and during the warm PDO it gets lots of snow (as in the 50s above) one could expect that while we’ve got plenty of snow right now, we might have a ‘snow drought’ soon. ( Or not ;-). Yes, it would be nicer to have more data points (like, oh, Mammoth vs Cascades vs Yosemite) to spot other relationships (like: Does LA get more rain / snow when Donner is in a drought, or do they move together?); but just the one does have some value.

    Put another way: Yes, large year to year and even decade to decade variation at one spot, but not a lot of ‘over the century’ change / slope.


    Hmmmm…. as that part of the Far North tends to be driven by the Polar Vortex, which is driven by the stratosphere… which is driven by solar output (UV / particles / ???) I’m not all that surprised there’s a connection. Might want to compare solar magnetic polarity to N pole polarity to see if that explains the 11 year lag… ( i.e. what pole is being enhanced vs in conflict with the solar polarity and / or where the ‘current sheet’ goes during that swap of solar magnetic pole…)


    Yes “interesting”. It looks to me like you can line up 1925 or so on 1976 (or so) as low dips, which would imply the next few years of ‘steady high’ snow, then another Big Dip of drought in about 2030 (just about where we’re so cold not much water is coming off the oceans).

    Warm ocean / cold air: Lots of snow until the ocean cools… then not much snow…

    @John F. Hultquist:

    Yes ;-)

    But in reality the early data are during an exit from the L.I.A., so might be suffering from selection bias and that end effect on trend lines… Go back to about 600 AD (or maybe it was 900 AD?) we had a couple of hundred years of drought. So much that trees are now found on the bottoms of lakes (where they grew to maturity next to the ‘creeks’ that were the lake bottom during the drought…) Yet go back even further, we had plenty of snow and rains… So there are longer term cycles not shown in this short data series…

  9. wshofact says:

    Gidday Chiefio – I got an email about this post of yours – asking me what data we had in Australia. Pretty sparse but I have just posted –

    Australian Alps snow depth history – 78 years of noisy data but little long term trend

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