100 years ago Tamarack CA (6913 ft) reported a US record snow depth of 454 inches on 10 March 1911. They also reported a seasonal snowfall total of 767 inches that year.
Fast forward 100 years and 9 days to 19 March 2011 at Squaw Valley CA, about 40 miles N of Tamarack. At 8200 ft they report a snow depth of 190 inches with 552 inches of snowfall to date. Squaw Valley’s snow report obeys a rough rule of thumb which says the peak snow depth is usually about 3 times the seasonal snowfall, in this case 552 / 190 = 2.9 This relationship holds fairly well at Paradise Mt Rainier where 692 inches of mean annual snowfall produces a mean snow depth of 181 inches on 1 April: 692 / 181 = 3.8. If you used the peak snow depth, typically around 10 April, this number (3.8) would be a little lower.
The record snow depth in the state of Washington is 367 inches on 10 March 1956 at Paradise Mt Rainier. The snowfall that winter was 1000 inches. Using the rule of thumb we come up with an estimated peak snow depth of 333 inches…not too bad.
Now let’s apply this to Tamarack CA in 1911: 767 / 3 = 256 inches of estimated snow depth. The difference between the estimated peak snow depth of about 256 inches vs the reported snow depth of 454 inches is a whopping 198 inches! Does anyone have any idea how reliable the report from Tamarack CA might be? At least for now I remain somewhat skeptical of the reported depth of 454 inches.
The second greatest snow depth in CA that I’m aware of is the 331 inches measured at Lake Helen (8200 ft) near Lassen Peak on 31 March 1983 during a routine snow survey.
Just last month on 26 March 2011 Alpine Meadows CA (west of Lake Tahoe) on the “upper mountain” reported a snow depth of 315 inches . Today on 13 April 2011 they are still reporting 267 inches.