Snow! 30th November 2018

[UPDATE 1st December: Anne and Anabel King report about 6″ of icy snow in the Tahquitz Peak area. The snow level started around 7200′, but was melting quickly in areas exposed to direct sun below 8000′. Microspikes were essential in the very icy conditions.]

I spent the last two days around San Jacinto Peak enjoying the storm system that came through yesterday, before I descended this morning via Deer Springs Trail. Many thanks to friend of the Trail Report Kyle Eubanks who joined me at the Peak last night and descended to the Tram this morning, providing the snow depth data for the eastern side.

Videos: (above) a quick summary of the weather at San Jacinto Peak early this morning, (below) a panorama from the Peak at sunrise today.

All mid- and high-elevation trails are snow-covered at present. Snow accumulated above about 6000′ elevation on the southern and western sides of the mountain, and above about 7000′ on the eastern side. Very strong westerly winds last night caused heavy drifting on eastern slopes.

Already by noon today, extensive melting was taking place below 8000′ on exposed slopes, and some trails, such as lower Deer Springs and Devil’s Slide, were starting to become a sloppy mess. These areas will become very icy overnight, and microspikes will be invaluable this weekend at least.

Microspikes are recommended on all trails above about 7000′ elevation at this time. Snowshoes may be useful for some hikers above about 9000′ (and possibly at lower elevations depending on personal preference).

Measured snow depths are as follows (these are average accumulations, deeper drifts will be encountered).

Eastern side: Long Valley 6″, Round Valley 6″, Wellman Divide 8″, Annie’s Junction 6.5″ (State Park boundary north of Saddle Junction).

Western side: Saddle Junction 4″, Strawberry Junction 3″, Marion Mountain Trail (top) 4″, Fuller Ridge Trail at junction with Deer Springs 5″, Little Round Valley 6″.

San Jacinto Peak: 12″ (drifts to 18″).

The view south-east from San Jacinto Peak just after sunrise, 30th November 2018.

Weather It started snowing at San Jacinto Peak yesterday at about 0830, continuing until around midnight. In Idyllwild it started raining before sunrise yesterday, accumulating a total of 2.66″ at 5550′ by this morning. All stations at mid elevations on the mountain received about an inch or more of rain, with many recording more than two inches.

At San Jacinto Peak today, Friday 30th November, at 0620 the air temperature was 17°F (-10°C), with a windchill temperature of -8°F (-23°C), 100% relative humidity, and a howling 25 mph WSW wind gusting to at least 39 mph.

Hikers should now be prepared for temperatures at or below freezing above about 7000′ (at lower elevations on some days), and well below freezing at the highest elevations (even colder when considering windchill effects).

There is currently a high probability of precipitation at all elevations next week (5th-6th December).

Water conditions Obviously the water situation is no longer the concern that it has been for the past 6-7 months. Updates will only be given when there is something noteworthy to report (e.g., the Round Valley faucet starts flowing). However, finding flowing water can be a challenge as most water sources above 9000′ may be completely frozen, at least in the morning.

North Fork of the San Jacinto River at Deer Springs Trail, 30th November 2018. The stream at about 9600′ was completely frozen and covered in drifted snow.
Switchback Spring on Deer Springs Trail, 30th November 2018. Water was trickling here at about 8150′ elevation.

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