See what California’s record snowpack looks like, up close

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Up and down the high slopes of the Sierra Nevada, the barrage of heavy storms that deluged California this winter also left behind a giant frozen reservoir, one whose thawing will shape the next phase of what has already been a remarkably wet year for the drought-weary state.

Snow, huge imposing walls of it, has blanketed the Sierra’s majestic peaks and mountainsides, in quantities that parts of the area have never previously recorded.

It has fallen in totals that defy easy imagining: 654 inches at Mount Rose near Lake Tahoe, 702 inches at Mammoth Mountain. When converted into an equivalent depth of water, it is nearly double the historical average for this point in the year across the Sierra’s northern reaches, where the runoff feeds several major reservoirs. In the southern Sierra, it is around triple the average.

Statewide, this season’s snowpack is on course to be either the largest or the second largest since modern records began in 1950, Sean de Guzman, the manager of the California Department of Water Resources’ Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit, said on Monday.

The sheer immensity of the snowpack has sparked delight among skiers and a more complex brew of emotions among farmers and water managers, who are ready to embrace the watery bounty but are also girding for the possibility of more catastrophic flooding this spring.

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