The snow just keeps piling up in California, so much so that some ski lifts are buried as the record snowpack erases drought concerns for much of the state. Topping the incredible snow totals across the Sierra Nevada is Mammoth Mountain, with 618 inches at its lodge and 780 inches at its summit, enough to almost bury entire houses.
“It’s truly an incredible and historic winter here,” said Justin Romano, communications coordinator for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. “We are having our second-biggest winter on record and chasing down the snowiest on record. The town is buried.” The most snow on record for Mammoth, at its lodge, is 668.5 inches in 2010-2011.
In addition to Mammoth Mountain, a number of California ski resorts are reporting more than 600 inches of snow for the season, according to totals compiled by Snow Brains:
- Sugar Bowl: 695 inches
- Palisades Tahoe: 662 inches
- Dodge Ridge Mountain: 660 inches
- Kirkwood: 648 inches
- China Peak: 634 inches
- Boreal: 630 inches
- Sierra-at-Tahoe: 625 inches
- Bear Valley Resort: 623 inches
- Northstar: 608 inches
The 662 inches at Palisades Tahoe is an record for the resort. “We have so much snow … that we are having to manually dig out this lift line with shovels every day after snowfall,” the resort said in an update on its website.
Dodge Ridge has also surpassed its record, and Bear Valley should do the same soon. Sierra-at-Tahoe has tied its third-highest snow total on record and could soon approach the second-highest, which was 647 inches in 2005-2006, while the record there sits at 763 inches in 2010-2011.
Pictures from several resorts show chairlifts buried by snow.
CRAZY PICS of BURIED ski lifts from the Sierra. Top left via @MammothMountain; top right via @palisadestahoe; bottom left via @Sierra_at_Tahoe; bottom right via @BearValleyrsrt— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) March 17, 2023
READ MORE: https://t.co/xwMysydLEz pic.twitter.com/PBa2Ifo5uC
The season’s snow total is up to 668 inches at the University of California at Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab, just 3 inches away from surpassing 1982-83 as the second snowiest winter there, with more snow likely on the way this weekend.
Snowpack across the Sierra Nevada is now 180 to 271 percent of the seasonal average and on pace to be the highest or second-highest on record by April 1, when the snowpack typical reaches its peak.
Record amounts of snow this winter along with copious rainfall have dissipated drought conditions across California.
According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday, only 8.5 percent of the state is now classified under “severe,” “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the three worst out of five drought categories. That’s down from 94 percent in late September just before the start of the water year. Almost 45 percent of the state is no longer covered by any level of drought.
“Winter precipitation, combined with recent storms, wiped out exceptional and extreme drought in California for the first time since 2020, and is expected to further improve drought conditions this spring,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its spring outlook issued Thursday.
The massive snowpack has done wonders for the water supply, with reservoir water storage up as much as 81 percent from a year ago. However, the “above normal to record snowpack … combined with elevated soil moisture, increases the threat of spring flooding due to snowmelt, especially at high elevations,” NOAA said.