Snow Survey Reveals California Snowpack at 110 Percent of Average

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) completed the pivotal April snow survey at Phillips Station, revealing the positive outcome of the late-winter storms on California’s snowpack.

The manual survey recorded a snow depth of 64 inches and a snow water equivalent of 27.5 inches, representing 113 percent of the average for this location. These figures are instrumental for water managers as they signify the peak snowpack for the season and signal the transition to spring snowmelt into the state’s waterways.

DWR’s electronic readings from 130 stations across the state indicate that the statewide snowpack’s snow water equivalent stands at 28.6 inches, or 110 percent of the April 1 average. This marks a significant improvement from the meager 28 percent of average recorded on January 1.

Despite challenges such as a dry start to the year and the potential impact of soot and ash from burn scars accelerating snowmelt, California’s reservoirs remain in favorable conditions. Thanks to state efforts to capture water from recent storms, reservoir levels currently stand at 116 percent of average statewide.

However, uncertainties loom as the spring runoff begins, potentially impacting water availability.

“California has had two years of relatively positive water conditions, but that is no reason to let our guard down now,” said Dr. Michael Anderson, State Climatologist with DWR. “With three record-setting multi-year droughts in the last 15 years and warmer temperatures, a well above average snowpack is needed to reach average runoff. The wild swings from dry to wet that make up today’s water years make it important to maintain conservation while managing the runoff we do receive. Our water years moving forward will see more extreme dry times interrupted by very wet periods like we saw this winter.”

Governor Gavin Newsom’s participation in today’s snow survey at Phillips Station coincided with the release of the California Water Plan Update 2023, outlining a vision for sustainable and equitable water management in the face of climate change.

California’s ongoing climate adaptation efforts, including groundwater recharge initiatives and collaboration with local agencies, aim to bolster water resilience for future challenges. As the Sierra snowpack remains a vital component of California’s water supply, the data gathered from snow surveys play a crucial role in water resource management for millions of Californians.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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