Sierra Weather Update, 6/5/23:
Dropping temperatures and increasing chances of new snow above 10,800-feet (freezing rain below it) with lightning, thunder, and winds out of the SE to 25mph will hover over the central and southern Sierra for most of this week. Not much snow accumulation is expected, but plan accordingly (more food and fuel in case you get stuck in your tent for a few days).
– Never Get Wet in a Cold Environment (if you have no external heat source by which to warm up and dry off; a tent doesn’t count!)
– New powder snow will melt off and consolidate into the existing snowpack as soon as the sun comes out, but if the ambient temps remain in the 30s or 40s, there’s still a lot of cloud cover blocking the sun, and the wind is still gusting, it may hang around for days.
– Cold, cloudy days like these make for ideal snow-hiking, as the snowpack is usually frozen hard, there’s no sun, and you remain nice and warm under your outer shells, as long as you keep moving.
Once you make camp, preferably in a sheltered location below timberline, due to the winds at higher and more exposed elevations (don’t camp below the Pass, if it’s gusty and windy) and risks of lightning, plan to stay in for the duration of the nastiness outside.
Your need to make miles and/or go over the Pass is not worth the added risk that comes with exposing yourself above timberline during high wind and precipitation events!
– Don’t be fooled into thinking that exposure to rain, rather than snow, is better. Freezing rain is far more conducive to hypothermia because people think they can hike through it, yet they get soaked in so doing and suffer from it, later.
– When you wake up in the morning and you’re already in the Sierra and it is threatening to rain/snow/hail/thunder/lightning outside your tent, it is wise to maintain your personal dryness and warmth and not plan on hiking that day.
That was an understatement.
As it so often goes, while people pack up in the rain or snow (thinking they have to make miles that day), all their gear gets wet to one degree or another, then the storm blows-in a few hours later just to get more of their stuff wet as they hike along. They push to a decent campsite, while, personally, getting more wet, pull out all their gear and clothing to throw into the tent, getting it wet in the process, and start shivering once inside and not moving around, anymore.
If it’s threatening to storm outside, come morning, take a “zero,” declare it a “snow day” and stay home ’till the event blows over and the sun comes out!
The Sierra under storm warning is no place to be traveling Ultra Light, especially on snow and in a snowstorm! If you have to be there, don’t expect to go far, once the storm starts (if at all), wear as many layers of clothing as needed, Shell and glove-up, and carry extra food and fuel for the long-stay indoors, if needed.