Ski Tour logo


Snow Conditions

The current snow condition is one of the two key pieces of information needed to plan a backcountry ski trip. This is especially important early and late in the season and during draughts. The other piece of information is the weather forecast.

There are problems associated with putting all you trust in webcams and ski area reports. Rarely do they give you an accurate glimpse of backcountry conditions. Nearly all webcams are located at ski resorts, which are usually located in areas of good snow fall and retention. Plus most California and Nevada ski areas make snow. Ski area snow reports are also notorious for stating snow depths that are "hard to believe."

Fortunately, public agency data is available on snow conditions. Some of the data, for example the SNOTEL data, is gathered remotely and therefore gives an up-to-date look at conditions.

Natural Resources Conservation Service
Homepage for SNOTEL
Automated system designed to collect snowpack data in Western United States and Alaska
www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snow

SNOTEL - California Sites
http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/California/california.html

SNOTEL - Nevada Sites
www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/Nevada/nevada.html

Weather Underground for California (summary of data from NRCS - SNOTEL)
www.wunderground.com/StateSnowDepth.asp?state=CA

Weather Underground for Nevada (summary of data from NRCS - SNOTEL)
www.wunderground.com/StateSnowDepth.asp?state=NV

One stop snow reports for ski resorts around the world
Snow reports, ski deals and reviews for ski resorts around the world
www.onthesnow.com

California Cooperative Snow Surveys
The California Department of Water Resources maintains the California Data Exchange Center (CDEC) where snow condition data is gathered from Federal and State agencies and other public agencies, and made available to agencies and the public.
cdec.water.ca.gov/snow/current/snow

General Information

History of snow surveying
cdec.water.ca.gov/snow/info/HistSnowSurvey.html

The importance of snow
cdec.water.ca.gov/snow/info/ImportOfSnow.html

The snow surveyor
cdec.water.ca.gov/snow/info/SnowSurveyors.html

Data collection
cdec.water.ca.gov/snow/info/DataCollecting.html

Our Sponsors

Western Mountaineering logo

Sorensen's Resort logo

Rock Creek Lodge logo

Lost Trail Lodge logo