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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 12/20/2010

Mammoth snow: 13+ feet in four days

By Jason Samenow

mammoth-snow.jpg
Snow at Mammoth Mountain, California has exceeded 9-13.5 feet since Friday. Credit: Mammoth Mountain

Snowmageddon was a flurry by comparison. Read the latest phenomenal snow report from Mammoth Mountain ski resort in California:

Since Friday, the storm total is 9 feet to 13 1/2 feet of snow! Mammoth received 32" of snow in the last 24 hrs and is expecting at least another 1-2 feet throughout today. This storm has broken the record of the snowiest December ever recorded since first recording in 1969! Mammoth has also just been named to having the most snow in the World by SkiInfo.com!

Mammoth has not only had to contend with these unfathomable snow amounts, but also winds of over 100 mph at mountain ridge peaks.

Believe or not, the observed snow totals haven't broken records - yet.

Over at AccuWeather, Jesse Farrell writes:

Here are some U.S. snowfall records for comparison. Amazingly, we are nowhere near them yet.
According to Chris Burt, author of "Extreme Weather", the highest snowfall in the continental U.S. include 84" at Crestview, CA in 24 hours, 129" in 3 days at Laconia, WA,* 194" (over 16 feet) in four days in Norden, CA, and 189" in 6 days at Mount Shasta, CA. *May have been broken by the 2008 Kirkwood, CA storm.

Three additional feet or so of snow could fall there by Wednesday - so the 189" 6-day record could be in play.

The storm system producing all of this snow has also generated record rains and mudslides in southern California. The LA Times called it the "Storm of the Decade" indicating totals of five to seven inches were possible in Los Angeles by Wednesday morning.

Capital Weather Gang reader "David" emailed us to ask: "The snowfall in DC that is expected on Saturday is originating from where? My coworker was saying that it is from the same storm that is currently creating havoc in California. Is that correct? Do systems that originate over the Pacific make it all the way to the eastern shore?"

The answer is essentially yes - the upper level energy feeding the storm slamming California - will eject and cut across the southern U.S., losing some of its punch along the way. However, it could regenerate into a bigger storm if it merges near the East Coast with a disturbance diving southeast out of Canada. The various scenarios for the fate of this storm are discussed in detail in our Snow Lover's Crystal Ball.

By Jason Samenow  | December 20, 2010; 7:00 PM ET
Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather  
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Comments

Very neat, but also quite dangerous for skiers. Not everyone visiting places like Mammoth knows that heavy snow can cause deep "tree wells," which form when tree cover creates deep holes right under the pines. It's not hard to fall into these and suffocate. I'm sure this will also create an avalanche risk, especially when the snow starts to melt.

Skiing is wild fun, but make sure you know the risks of different kinds of skiing (such as glades or back country).

Posted by: KBurchfiel | December 20, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I learned how to ski at Mammoth as a kid, my parents had a condo there while we lived in CA. I think I saw about 10' over 10 days or so once.. pretty incredible place. If I can ever retire I'll be found there... :p

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 20, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Would also note the base of the mtn is about ~8k feet with the top over 11k. I think the town of Mammoth Lakes is just about 7k. Snow levels rose above the town level for a bit I believe before the cold front, still they probably got close to that lower figure there as well.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 20, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Unfathomable amounts of snow is right! But how can the record for 4 days be 194", but the 6 day record is 189". Doesn't compute. I know it's a quote from AccuWeather, but maybe I'm missing something.

Posted by: mikeBethesda | December 20, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Ian-
Mammoth Lakes is 7,880', so it's probably snowing in town, mixed precip at the Airport, and rain halfway down the Bishop Tuft.

KBurchfiel-
Yeah. This much snow is a huge avalanche risk up at the top of the mountain (11,053'). That and the wind is why the top of the mountain (Chairlifts 3, 5, 23, Upper Gondola etc.) have been closed since the storm. Cornice Bowl and Dave's Run probably won't be open until Friday.

Posted by: mason08 | December 20, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

@mikeBethesda,
Good call! I'm still laughing.

Posted by: tulsa_dave | December 20, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

@mikeBethesda

Good catch. I'll try to figure out the discrepancy.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 20, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Too bad we never can get this in Washington...it would really shut down Metro and the Feds.

Any thundersnow in all this??? Vaisala keeps showing some lightning in unusual locales off the West Coast. I've often thought these big snows around Donner/Truckee feature periods of thundersnow.

There's also a juicy Kona-type storm in Hawaii and a tropical storm in the central Pacific. This storm is a genuine Pineapple Express.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | December 21, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Add me to the crew who grew up at Mammoth...Cornice Bowl was my daddy until I figured him out at about 11 years old or so. 2 feet of snow there is like what we saw last Tuesday for us. No biggie...and good for business. The drive we used to take up 395 took forever from SoCal, but when you got that first look at the mountains (real mountains, not East Coast hills) with all that snow on them, you knew you were in a different world. California really is underrated in its stunning physical beauty. (insert joke here)

Posted by: DullesARC | December 21, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

The east can also get monster snows. Montague, NY owns the single day state record of snowfall with 77 inches. Nearby Hooker, NY got 466.9 inches, 39 feet, in the winter of 1976-77. Redfield, NY got 141 inches over ten days in 2007.

All these places are in the Tug Hill Plateau where some buildings have second-floor entry doors.


Posted by: blablabla | December 21, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

mason08, thanks for the elevation refresh. The reports of snow in town seemed lower either way. I think ski areas generally fib a bit with snow... re: avalance risk, as you know they bomb/rocket the cornice bowl so hopefully it's not a huge issue for skiiers!

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

mason08, thanks for the elevation refresh. The reports of snow in town seemed lower either way. I think ski areas generally fib a bit with snow... re: avalance risk, as you know they bomb/rocket the cornice bowl so hopefully it's not a huge issue for skiiers!

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I always liked hearing the explosives in the morning. It meant there would be a good chance for fresh tracks off of the "backside" of 9. Back when that was a slow chair, no one would go over that way and you could always find new snow until lunch, and even longer if it was midweek. Since it was changed to a fast chair, it gets tracked up much more quickly.

Posted by: mason08 | December 21, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

mason08, it's been so long since I've been, but I did get the chance to see some days right after a big dump -- pretty incredible. Skiing can be difficult tho for sure as noted and more generally on the slopes with the ruts in cement snow and such. Something else for sure. Last visit was probably 95/96 or so? The last time I was there we went to gather stuff and planned on spending some time fishing etc. Roads past Twin Lakes were still closed.. had to have been July or so as well. It was late one way or another -- spent many a summer on Lake Mary, etc. Awesome place... miss it all the time.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

They're now up to 15 1/2 feet for this storm. Leaving San Diego to head up there shortly...

Posted by: SurferT | December 22, 2010 2:17 AM | Report abuse

I remember 1969, I was there. We owned Welch's Pancake House if any of you remember it. I remember one night it snowed almost 3' (yes 3feet). We had to take the snowmobile from the cabin to the restaurant as all the roads were snowed in. These snow amounts are being compared to that year.

Posted by: karenj2 | December 25, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

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