California Snowpack Has Doubled in Size After February Storms

After kicking off the year with a snowpack at a dismal 25% of average, California’s Sierra Nevada is now cloaked in a stunning white blanket, thanks to a series of potent storms that have dramatically turned the tide. Over the past week alone, the Sierra has seen an addition of up to 4 feet of snow, pushing the statewide snowpack to 86% of normal for this time of year and 70% of the critical April 1 average.

This recovery marks a significant shift from the dire conditions at the year’s start, providing a much-needed boost to water resources and ski resorts alike.

Water officials are feeling a collective sigh of relief and optimism as the snowpack has more than doubled in size over the last month, positioning California for an average water year—a rarity in recent times. This balanced scenario benefits both water management and winter sports without the extreme challenges of excessive snowfall that can lead to roof collapses and business disruptions.

Looking ahead, more storms are anticipated in early March, potentially bringing additional snow to further solidify the snowpack. While Northern Sierra has fared well, the Central and Southern Sierra await their share of the bounty as spring approaches.

Despite the uneven distribution, reservoir levels are robust, standing at 118% of the historical average, thanks to last year’s water year and the recent precipitation, underscoring the importance of snowpack for California’s water supply and environmental health.

As California navigates through the remnants of El Niño and the potential onset of La Niña, which could herald drier conditions, the state remains vigilant. The interplay of climate change introduces uncertainties, emphasizing the delicate balance between beneficial snowfall and the risks of rapid melting or drought.

Nonetheless, this year’s recovery of the Sierra snowpack offers a glimmer of hope and resilience in the face of environmental challenges.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California
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