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The first snow storm of this winter last week will be quickly followed by a much more substantial system this week. Although we hiked to San Jacinto Peak this morning, conditions reported here are only valid until sometime on Wednesday 27th, when heavy rain and snowfall are forecast to start (see Weather below). This week’s storm will be unusually cold and severe for November, so please plan accordingly and exercise considerable caution.
Currently all main trails, including the main routes on both east and west sides of San Jacinto Peak, have been well-traveled and are obvious.
Melting has been considerable in most areas, with nearly half of last week’s snowfall lost above 8000′, and much more lost below that elevation.
Microspikes are currently useful at all elevations above about 6500′. They are especially useful for descending the trails, many of which are icy and compacted. Snow depths are now inadequate for snowshoeing.
Hikers should be prepared for temperatures at or below freezing in the high country, and well below freezing when considering windchill effects. Temperatures later this week will be far below seasonal at all elevations, with dangerously low windchill values in the high country.
WEATHER The likelihood of an historically large storm this week (27th-29th November) is fading. However the storm will still be dramatic for November, with 12+ inches of snow forecast for 6000′ elevation (e.g. Fern Valley and Pine Cove) and at least two feet of snow above 10,000′ elevation. It will be unseasonably cold everywhere, with high country windchill temperatures well below 0°F (-18°C). Heavy rainfall is possible at mid-elevations at least.
At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) today, Monday 25th November 2019 at 0950 the air temperature was 34.4°F (1°C), with a windchill temperature of 16.6°F (-9°C), 33% relative humidity, and a wild WNW wind sustained at 32.0 mph gusting to 48.4 mph.
At the Peak on Wednesday 20th November 2019 at 0710 the air temperature was 20.5°F (-6°C), with a windchill temperature of 3.3°F (-16°C), 100% relative humidity, and a brisk WSW wind sustained at 5.0 mph gusting to 16.3 mph, while lightly snowing.
All trails above about 6800′ are at least partially snow-covered, and microspikes are recommended. See comments above.
Reliable, well-traveled tracks are currently in place for Devil’s Slide Trail, Tahquitz-area meadows, Tahquitz Peak from the PCT, South Ridge Trail, Deer Springs Trail, Marion Mountain Trail, and from the Tram through to San Jacinto Peak.
SNOW DEPTHS measured today are as follows. Average depth is given, drifts may be significantly deeper than the average in places. Altitudes are approximate.
San Jacinto Peak (10810′): 6″ (about 10″ on 21st November)
Wellman Divide (9700′): 5″
Annie’s Junction (9070′): 5″
Saddle Junction (8070′): 4″ (about 7″ on 21st)
Devil’s Slide Trail at Humber Park (6550′): 0″ (5″ on 21st)
Idyllwild (at 5550′): 0″ (4″ on 21st).