“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Soda Springs in Nevada County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Central Sierra Snow Lab

Hwy 40 Scenic Bypass

Central Sierra Snow Lab Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 18, 2017
1. Central Sierra Snow Lab Marker
Captions: (top left) 1951 Geiger Mueller Counter*, battery of precipitation gauges, and radio-active Cobalt 60 (under now at right).; (top right) "Weighing a snow core for a water holding sturdy" at the Snow Lab 1948.; (bottom) Federal Sampler being used at Snow Lab. *The amount of water in the snow affected how much radiation was detected as the radioisotope was raised from underground. In that way a profile of the snowpack could be determined.

California has some of the most productive farmland in the world and a population of 38 million people. California alone is on of the biggest economies in the world. Water is critical to that economy and Sierran snows are critical to that water supply. The snows serve as a frozen reservoir slowly releasing what in the spring to streams and rivers downstream. It is vital to know how much snow is in the Sierra, and what the water content of the snow is. How much water will come from the melting snow? Reservoir managers and farmers can then plan. The Central Sierra Snow Lab was established in 1946 to gather accurate information and do snow research. The Snow Lab was built by the U.S. Weather Bureau and the Army Corp of Engineers. The U.S. Forest Service took over in 1952 and the University of California at Berkeley assumed responsibility in 1995.
Donner Summit is a perfect spot for a snow research station. Long term records of snowfall, gathered first by the railroad, go back to 1881. The maritime influence of the Pacific Ocean on Donner Summit results in an average of 34 feet of snowfall each winter - the highest snowfall of any residential area in the continental U.S. The snowpack typically last seven months and is deep, ranging from six to sixteen feet. The Lab is located in a large watershed
Central Sierra Snow Lab Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 18, 2017
2. Central Sierra Snow Lab Marker
that drains the terrain north of Boreal and west of Castle Peak, making it an ideal location to study runoff and streamflow. With the snow/rain line moving higher each year Donner Summit is an excellent place to gauge the effects.

A Good Story
The Federal Snow Sampler, the tool being used just above, is an efficient way to measure snow water equivalent, and is used by hydrologists in addition to more advance tools. The sampler is pushed into the snow to extract a core which is then weighted to determine the water content of the snow. Depth alone does not index water content. Accurate measurements help determine the extent of the snowpack and how much water to expect downstream during snowmelt. The sampler was developed by Dr. James Church, the "Father of Snow Surveying."

Things to do right here

Avid mountain bikers use this turn off to bike the Hole in the Ground trail that goes up to Boreal, under the overpass, up the dirt road 1.7 miles, onto a single track, around Andesite Peak to Lola Montez Lake, then follows a dirt road to the fire department back on Old 40.
Hiking up Boreal Ridge from Clair Tappaan Lodge (just up the road) to Crater Lake offers great views of the Donner Summit. Walkers will like walking in Summit Valley, seeing more 20 Mile Museum signs and Native American grinding rock.
Erected by Donner Summit Historical Society.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Donner Summit Historical Society marker series.
Location. 39° 19.388′ N, 120° 22.104′ W. Marker is in Soda Springs, California, in Nevada County. Marker is on Donner Pass Road near Bunny Hill Drive, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 20181 Donner Pass Road, Soda Springs CA 95728, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Soda Springs Hotel (approx. 0.6 miles away); Soda Springs Store (approx. 0.8 miles away); Norden Station (approx. 0.9 miles away); Summit Valley (approx. 1.1 miles away); Cal Lodge (approx. 1.1 miles away); Tri Lodges (approx. 1.1 miles away); Snowshoe Thompson (approx. 1.4 miles away); Western America Skisport Museum (approx. 1.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Soda Springs.
Also see . . .
1. Central Sierra Snow Laboratory - Tahoetopia. The science of snow surveying and forecasting water runoff began after the turn of the 20th century when a 31-year-old University of Nevada professor of Classics, Dr. James Church, strapped on a pair of web snowshoes and headed towards the summit of Mount Rose. (Submitted on July 8, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 

2. Snowpack Measurement. For the first time in 2017, scientists recorded the amount of water that is in the Sierra Snowpack, a crucial measurement as California faces a prolonged drought. (1/3/17) (Submitted on July 8, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
Categories. EnvironmentScience & Medicine
Credits. This page was last revised on July 8, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 8, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 98 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 8, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.
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