Is it too early for 2015 PCT hikers to make a High Sierra hiking plan? Probably. We took a look at historic High Sierra snow pack data, as gathered by the California Department of Water Resources (Station ID: BGH) at Bighorn Plateau. The snow depth at the Bighorn Plateau station (Google map) has been measured since 1949.
The chart below plots snow depth each year from 1990 to February 2015. You will see 4 bars in each group (except 1996, which is missing March data), representing the snow depth in February, March, April and May for that year.
Although February snow level tends to be a decent predictor of May snow, you should notice that you cannot reliably predict the May snow level based upon the February data. Just take a look at 1991 and 2013 to convince yourself of that.
So far 2015 looks like it may be a low snow year, but it’s too early to tell.
For your entertainment, here is all data, from 1949, taken from the Bighorn Plateau station. If you tackled the High Sierra in 1983 or any of the other big snow years, it would be interesting to hear from you in the comments.