Last week, I experienced the moment that every skier and snowboarder yearns for during a long summer of BBQs, boardshorts, and warmth: the first turns of the ski season. This season’s first day did not disappoint as there is a lot of fluffy powder to enjoy. In fact, some Tahoe-Truckee region ski resorts already have snowpacks that are 108% of average for this time of year!
As a snowboarder who loves riding powder above all else, I’ve become a bit of a snow forecasting nerd. Knowing that many other “powder hounds” exist in California and beyond, I thought I’d share some of the resources I use to predict when and where the best fluff is going to fall.
As we all know, snow is not just a surface to play on, it also serves as the state’s largest reservoir and provides Californians with water well into the summer. Unfortunately, climate change is predicted to wreak havoc on Sierra snowpack by the end of this century. The recently released California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment for the Sierra Nevada region predicts that under the worst emissions scenario, the April snowpack in places under 8,000 ft in elevation will likely not exist for most areas. I can’t help but think of what that means for snowboarding in my favorite place on the planet. However, that statistic’s implications not only for skiing but for Californians everywhere, for me, is the most powerful motivator to work on mitigating and adapting to climate change.
What the Fourth Climate Assessment is missing, however, is the role of effective snow-dancing in increasing Sierra snowpack. Perhaps my next blog will focus on that important component of the ski season. For now, let’s focus on the snow we have, mitigating climate impacts for the future, and having a fun, safe, and snowy winter!