Winter Snow Depth

"Sierra Nevada" is Spanish for "Snowy Range" and the Sierra Nevada lives up to it's name, recording some of the heaviest snow falls in the world. Some interesting records include:

As you would expect, snowfall in the Sierra increases with elevation. The lower foothills only rarely receive any measurable snow. Middle elevations receive a mix of snow and rain during the winter. Above about 6000 ft., the majority of precipitation falls as snow. It is not unusual, in some locations, to have ten feet of snow on the ground for extended periods.

However, snow accumulation does not directly follow precipitation in the Sierra. While the greatest total precipitation occurs in the northern part of the range, the greatest snow accumulation occurs in the central and high southern parts of the range, due to higher elevations and colder temperatures which inhibit snow melt. As expected, snow depths drop dramatically on the east side of the range due to the rain shadow effect (view comparative east side/west side snow depth chart).

The map below shows the average maximum measured snow depth in the Sierra Nevada for the month of March (the month the the greatest average snow depths).

See also:

Source: Raw U.S. Climatological Data for California, 1966-1996.