Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Feb. 26, 1977: Ron Taylor of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power finds a thin layer of snow in an area where the snowpack is 6 feet deep in an average year.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 26, 1977: Ron Taylor of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power climbs a Sacramento Rain Gauge, a device used to catch falling snow and measure its moisture content, at the edge of Lake Mary near Mammoth Mountain.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 26, 1977: Ron Taylor of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power uses a staff gauge to check volume of water flowing out of Lake Mary in the Mammoth Lakes area.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times

March 22, 1980: An L.A. Department of Water and Power snowcat carrying a measuring crew to work tracks across 18-foot snowdrifts in the Sierra Nevada.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

February 1961: Ed Kandt places a tube holding a core sample of snow on a scale and Charles Seybert records the weight in a ledger as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power hydrographers conduct a snow survey in the eastern Sierra Nevada. This photo appeared in the Feb. 20, 1961, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Frank Q. Brown / Los Angeles Times

April 7, 1971: A Los Angeles Department of Water and Power snowcat moves down a slope during a snow survey trip to Mammoth Pass.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times

More galleries on Framework

return to gallery

2012 Stanley Cup Finals

2012 Stanley Cup Final

Kings fail to finish off the Devils in Game 4 After two scoreless periods, New Jersey beats Jonathan Quick twice in the third period in a 3-1 victory. Game 5 is...
  View Post»

   

L.A. Department of Water and Power snow surveys

Before and after: Japan tsunami cleanup

March 11 marks the first anniversary of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, claiming more than 20,000 lives. Photographers for AFP/Getty Images revisited...   View Post»

   

L.A. Department of Water and Power snow surveys

Pictures in the News | February 27, 2012

Monday's Pictures in the News begins in Ohio, where five students were shot when a gunman opened fire at a high school Monday morning. The gunman was quickly taken into custody....   View Post»

L.A. Department of Water and Power snow surveys

Since 1926, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has conducted snow surveys in the eastern Sierra Nevada. Because the DWP gets over half of its water from the eastern Sierra, the surveys provide a vital projection of water available during the spring runoff.

Some years there’s plenty of snow; other years there’s little. The winter of 1976-77 was a drought year. Staff writer Jeff Stall reported in the Feb. 27, 1977, Los Angeles Times:

MAMMOTH LAKES – California’s largest storehouse of fresh water is a reservoir with no dams, no clearly defined shoreline, no waves lapping in the breeze.

This reservoir, critical to California’s waters supplies, is run by nature – and run very efficiently. It is the annual mountain snowpack that builds up through the long, cold winter months.

The tiny snow crystals undergo a silent transformation – compressing under their own weight, freezing, thawing, freezing again, evaporating.

And finally, with the warm spring sun, the snow melts and ultimately courses down the streams and into man’s own reservoirs with their dams and shorelines.

But this year is different.

“This year, there’s no winter,” said Chuck Seybert, who has toured the High Sierra snowfields for 28 years as an employee of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in the Owens Valley.

One of Seybert’s jobs is to measure the snowpack each month. The figures are compiled with those of fellow hydrographers into the spring stream runoff forecasts.

In the winter of 1976-77, Seybert is getting accustomed to the grim humor of a drought year. …

“What did you do, come up to measure nothing?” joked a friend as he approached Seybert.

Seybert responded with an unrecorded comment, but the grin on his tanned face indicated that it was good-natured. Later, the smile disappeared and Seybert said, “ Today, it’s a matter of seeing how bad we are.” …

The DWP surveys are part of the statewide California Cooperative Snow Survey program.

Three of the photos in the above gallery accompanied Stall’s February 1977 article. I’ve added a couple additional images from other Los Angeles Times coverage of  DWP snow surveys.

For more, check out the history of DWP snow surveys on the agency’s website.

No comments yet

Add a comment or a question.

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.

Required

Required, will not be published