“Eleven on the sketch meter. People can die digging out their driveway!”
The good news is: The fierce Pacific storms that bent palm trees, tore off roofs and caused heaps of trouble along coastal California marched inland and dumped heaps of snow in the Sierras and hopefully put a serious dent in the drought.
California’s water supply is all up in that snowpack and five to eight feet of snow eased worries that California’s need for 38,000,000,000 gallons of water a day (yeah, 38 billion gallons, every day) will not be met and California might return to: “If it’s yellow then it’s mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.”
And nobody wants that.
The bad news is, all the snow flocking the Sierras is attracting flocks of powder hounds and families who might be unaware of just how dangerous several feet of fresh-dumped snow can be.
Ken “Skindog” Collins esq (we don’t know when he got a law degree) is a powder hound who hit the Sierras and found more than he bargained for.
At 9:00 PM on Sunday the 26th of December, Collins found himself boxed in by snow on Boxing Day. He most likely took this photo earlier in the day, and sent it from his car, stuck in snow and traffic.
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The next morning, at 8:39 AM PST, Collins appeared to have broken through and appeared to be in a parking lot somewhere. He made a Public Service Announcement from behind the wheel of his large automobile, sipping on a cup of coffee, wearing a hood over his Volcom cap.
Boys! Update! As you know, there’s a massive storm we just had in the Sierras. Eight foot plus, super light and fluffy, killer snow. Very dangerous. Eleven on the sketch meter. Like don’t go in the back country is like common sense. But don’t go walking around your house right now. There’s an avalanche on every single rooftop on the condo you’re staying at, the house you’re staying at even at the resort you’re in right now. There could be a half ton of snow falling on you or your child and it could suffocate you. People can die digging out their driveway. It’s that dangerous, so be very mindful. Don’t go walking around under trees that look like they could drop two tons of snow on you. Huh. I know it sounds silly but don’t let your kids go have a snowball fight unsupervised. Seriously. It’s like letting them swim on the beach with 100-foot waves. It’s like…. That dangerous. It could happen so quick and easy. Someone could die digging out their driveway or the side of their house. Like…seriously. Be careful. Don’t go for a drive. Stay put. Wait this out. It will be fine. And that’s it.
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And Skindog’s warnings were correct, as the next day, newspapers across California were headlined with reports that Interstate 80 was closed indefinitely, there was an avalanche across Highway 89, etc. etc.
The Tahoe Daily Tribune declared this month:
“A December to remember” and reported: “South Lake Tahoe, Calif. – This sure has been a December to remember and it will literally go down in the record books.
Overnight snowfall rates were recorded by NWS across the Sierra at rates of 2-4″ per hour and continuing through sunrise. This brought snow ranges of 18-36“ 24-hr totals reported by the resorts at the higher elevations. Lake level residents were smothered with another 12-16” in their driveways with little room to displace the new snow. That’s over 100“ in just 6 days!
The snowfall record for December of 1970 at the Central Sierra Snow Lab was 179“ but with the recent burst of 39” of snow our official totals now sit at 193“ with more on the way.”
One hundred ninety three inches of snow is more than sixteen feet of snow, which means plenty of stored water for California, and maybe the folks down in Lemoore won’t complain so hard when Kelly and Co throw big roostertails and huck all that precious, cool, clear water down at Surf Ranch, which is right in the middle of California’s water wars.
And we’ll do the math for you: Even with 40 million people in the state, 70% of that water is used by agriculture. And 38 billion gallons of water a day is a whopping 13,870,000,000,000 gallons of water a year.
That’s enough to fill Surf Ranch 13,870,000,000,000 / 15,000,000 = 924,666.66666666666666666666 times.