Survey Reveals California Snowpack Sits at 254% of Average

Photo: California Department of Water Resources

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) recently conducted the fifth snow survey of the season at Phillips Station to measure the state’s snowpack. According to the manual survey, there were 59 inches of snow depth and 30 inches of snow water equivalent, which is 241 percent of average for this location on May 1.

Meanwhile, electronic readings from 130 snow sensors placed throughout the state indicated that the statewide snowpack’s snow water equivalent is 49.2 inches, or 254 percent of average for this date.

The snow survey at Phillips Station is important for planning the impacts of the coming snowmelt runoff on communities. The DWR uses updated technology to gather data from snow surveys, a network of 130 remote snow sensors, and airborne snow observatory data to create the most accurate snowmelt runoff forecasts possible. These forecasts allow reservoir operators to plan for anticipated inflows, while water managers downstream of reservoirs can plan and prepare for flood risks.

Photo: California Department of Water Resources

“This year’s massive snowpack is posing continued flood risks in the San Joaquin Valley,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “The snowpack will not disappear in one week or one month but will lead to sustained high flows across the San Joaquin and Tulare Basins over the next several months and this data will help us inform water managers and ultimately help protect communities in these regions.”

The DWR is maximizing the amount of water that can be stored and diverted from this record snowpack. In April, the DWR announced a 100 percent allocation of requested supplies from the State Water Project (SWP), which delivers water to 29 public water agencies that serve 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland. The last time the SWP allocated 100 percent was in 2006. The DWR is also maximizing the amount of water that can be diverted towards recharging

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