Lee Arnson, snow survey crew leader, on skis with measuring poles. Photo courtesy of Lee Arnson

A crew of Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit volunteers found 10 inches more snow than last year in its annual February snow survey. There was an average of 29.7 inches of snow and 9.5 inches of water content (if the snow melted it would produce that amount of water), said crew leader Lee Arnson.

On Sunday, Feb. 24, they surveyed three areas — Tahquitz, Little Tahquitz Valley and the Saddle. “If there is enough snow, we’ll do another survey the last weekend in April,” Arnson said.

In addition to more snow, Arnson said there was also a layer of ice that they had to break through to insert the measuring poles. Arnson said RMRU follows the same practices that have been long used to measure snow and water content in the high country — over a 500-foot swath, measurements are taken every 50 feet, a total of 10 per measuring site. “We go in on skis,” said Arnson. “It’s and all-day, 12-hour job. This is our 13th year of doing the survey.”

Arnson said in the years of completing the survey, the deepest snow average in the measuring areas was 60 inches. The three Hill water districts as well as Lake Hemet Municipal Water District finance the survey.