Bonanza King

Aerial photo of the Bonanza King Lookout on Dec. 23. Additional snow has fallen in the Trinity mountains since then.

It’s too early to tell how this year’s snowpack will turn out, but last week’s storm gave it a boost.

Snow sensors placed in the mountains of Trinity County show several feet of snow.

As of Monday, at Bonanza King at 6,450 feet elevation, sensors showed 54 inches of snow with 15 inches of water content.

At Shimmy Lake at 6,400 feet elevation in the Trinity Alps Wilderness, sensors showed 58 inches of snow with 15 inches of water content.

At Peterson Flat on the flank of Mount Eddy at 7,150 feet elevation, snow sensors showed 42 inches of snow with 9 inches of water content.

It should be noted that the April 1 snowpack is what counts as far as water allocations, and this week’s figures are still far below the average April 1 measurements of 40 inches of water content at Bonanza King, 40 inches of water content at Shimmy Lake, and 29 inches of water content at Peterson Flat. But there’s time.

Surveyors will soon travel to the snow courses to get more information on the snowpack. In recent years, the numbers have varied widely, noted Mike McFadin from the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, who conducts some of the snow surveys in Trinity County.

“Last five or six years it’s everything from drive up there and take a picture of a bare mountain to five or six feet of snow,” said McFadin, who does the surveys at locations outside the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area while Josh Smith from the Watershed Research and Training Center leads a crew on snowshoes and skies into the wilderness area each year.

“It’s just been willy-nilly,” McFadin said.

Kelli Gant, president of the Trinity Lake Revitalization Alliance, was up in a helicopter over the North County area over the weekend and noted that the snowline seemed to be at 3,500 feet for the most part.

“It seems to be deep high up,” she said. “Down here we have coverage but it’s not really deep.”

“I don’t think this is exceptional,” she said, but “it looks good. We’re just happy there’s snow.”

The recent rain and snowstorms have also helped to fill Trinity Lake. As of Monday, the lake was 80 percent full, holding 1,961,224 acre-feet of water. That is more water in the lake than usual at this time of year — 116 percent of average.

Gant noted that on New Year’s Day the lake was the highest it’s been that day since 2011. Last year tourism in the North County was good, she said. “If no extraordinary changes in water management occur, we should have a great year again.”

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