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Big Snow and Spring Impacts

04.06.17

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Big Snow and Spring Impacts

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  • Winter snowfall has been extraordinary in 2017, nearly covering a Lake Mary Road street sign.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • A snowbound lodge building near Lake Mamie.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Heavy snow fell throughout the west in the winter of 2017.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • The western states from California to Colorado saw snowpack exceeding 100%.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Beautiful snows in the winter of 2017.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Split Mountain Wash in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. In a year with little rainfall, the park maintains a parched appearance.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Wildflowers open up in Borrego Palm Canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park during a super bloom.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Cactus blooms near Indianhead Peak in Anza-Borrego during a super bloom.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Beavertail cactus along the Hellhole Canyon Trail in Anza-Borrego during a super bloom.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • View to the northeast from the Hellhole Canyon Trail in Anza-Borrego during a super bloom.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Desert chicory during a super bloom in Hellhole Canyon in Anza-Borrego.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Spray Park and Mount Rainier (14,411 ft).- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Sunset from Dog Mountain.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • The end of a rainbow on an intermittently rainy morning at Tom McCall Point.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • A beautiful walk through blooming fields of flowers at North Table Mountain Ecological Preserve.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Oxalis in full bloom at Harmony Headlands.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Sunset from the Living Room.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Sunset and views of Salt Lake City from the top of Mount Olympus.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Golden banner (Thermopsis montana) fills the meadows at Crags Crest.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • The Yosemite Falls Trail gets you up close and personal.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • North Falls, Silver Falls State Park.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • A great waterfall just a half mile up the trail at Canyon Creek.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Upper Lewis River Falls.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
  • Panther Creek Falls from below.- Big Snow and Spring Impacts
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Contributor

On March 6, whiteout conditions east of San Francisco on I-80 forced the closure of the highway as feet of snow continued to fall—it’s been that kind of winter throughout the West. Snowpack levels are high all over the West, and levels at most measurement stations in the Lower 48—especially those west of the Rockies—report snowpack levels that exceed 110% of their annual average. In the Sierra, snowpack measured in February exceeded 170% of annual average with two weeks left in the rainy season, and levels continue to hover in that range. The drought in the West may not be over, but this winter’s weather will certainly help to relieve some of the pressure. 

Likewise, adventures in and around the snow-laden mountain valleys can expect to see certain trends. Swelling streams in the spring mean stronger waterfalls. Snows that persist in the mountains lengthen the skiing and snowboarding season. Heavy winter rains coax wildflower “super blooms” in California and the desert southwest, like that which began in early March. Before adventuring this spring, be sure to check your plans against the fallout of a heavy winter.

Wildflower Blooms

Wet winters encourage spring blooms in dramatic fashion. As a rule, wildflowers follow the last melt, and with heavier amounts of snow in the mountains, this may push wildflower blooms later into the spring months. This certainly isn’t the case everywhere. A wet winter in Southern California has sparked a super bloom of a magnitude the state hasn’t seen in over a decade. The desert rarely experiences this kind of transformation, which only occurs in years of heavy winter precipitation. The super bloom, which began in early March, is still in full effect at several parks and preserves around the region, but don’t wait for too long. Anza-Borrego State Park is perhaps most notorious for wildflower displays, where wildflowers can be seen along Hellhole Canyon Trail and Borrego Palm Canyon.

Other spring wildflower hikes:

Spring Waterfalls

Heavy snow this winter means that the waterfalls will rage in the spring, of course, but with more snow in the mountains, you can expect these stronger flows to last deeper into the spring and summer. 

For a roundup of spring waterfalls, check out 35 Must-See Waterfalls This Spring.

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