Snow Course Data Tables - Nevada / California



Photo of example snow course

Background: A snow course is a permanent measurement transect where the snowpack's depth and water content are measured at the same locations month-after-month, and year-after-year. Snow courses were the primary means of collecting snowpack data prior to the 1970s when SNOTEL sites began being installed. As a result, snow course data records often start earlier than SNOTEL records. Many snow courses have been measured since the 1930s or before, with the oldest snow courses beginning between 1910 and 1913 in the Lake Tahoe region. While many snow courses continue to be measured each winter, many others have been discontinued and replaced by SNOTEL measurements. Snow course measurements are made by snow surveyors using Federal Snow Samplers otherwise known as "snow tubes" which remove a core of snow. The core is weighed to determine its water content. The design of the snow tubes have changed very little since they were first developed and used in the early 1900s by Dr. James Church on Mt Rose, Nevada. The reported measurement is the average depth and water content from 5-10 measurement points. Snow courses are typically situated in forest openings or meadows protected from the wind. Snow course measurements are only made monthly during the winter, as compared to hourly and daily data reported by SNOTEL sites.

For a map of Nevada and California snow course locations, please click here

NRCS Nevada / Eastern Sierra Snow Course Measurement ScheduleClick Here


Period of Record Monthly Snow Course Data Tables:

Nevada Snow Courses

California - Eastern Sierra Snow Courses
including some west slope courses near Sierra crest)

Other California Snow Courses

Idaho and Oregon Snow Courses near Nevada border

Back Estimated Monthly SNOTEL SWE Data (based on correlation with discontinued snow course): Click Here