Recent Mega-Storm Not Enough to Save Sierra Snowpack | Officials Warn Residents to “Use Water Wisely”

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Current California/Nevada snowpack. Credit: NOAA

The atmospheric river that dumped up to ten feet of snow across the Sierra Nevada mountains last week was a welcome arrival, but the snowpack is still well behind where it needs to be.

Statewide the snowpack is currently about 70% of its average for this time of year. After a dry start to the season, way more snow is required to comfortably supply the state’s water needs come spring and summer. State officials yesterday warned that residents should “use water wisely.”

“The state has experienced a series of storms over the last couple of weeks that brought a significant amount of rain and snow, however, these storms were not nearly enough to make up a deficit that we have accumulated over the last few months.”

– Sean de Guzman, chief of the Department of Water Resources’ snow surveys and water supply forecasting section

A manual measurement taken at Phillips Station found 63″ of snow with a water content of 17″. This is 93% of average to date and 68% of the average on April 1, when the Sierra snowpack is typically at its deepest. The current water content of the overall snowpack is 45% of the April 1 average.

California’s largest reservoirs are at relatively low levels following this week’s snowstorm. Shasta Dam is just under half full, and Millerton Lake is about one-third full.

However, all is not lost. February is typically one of the three wettest months of the year, and who can forget the Miracle March from a couple of years ago. A good end to the winter could make all the difference.

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