The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the third snow survey of the season which indicated the state is getting closer to another record-setting winter. The monthly survey conducted roughly 90 miles east of Sacramento at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada mountains illustrated continued growth of the state’s snowpack.
The survey revealed 113 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 43.5 inches, another doubling of last month’s survey results. Statewide, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is 153 percent of average for this date.
“This winter’s snowpack gets better each month and it looks like California storms aren’t done giving yet,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said in a press release. “This is shaping up to be an excellent water year.”
Since the beginning of the year, California has been hit with several storms systems, nearly one right after another. The snowpack essentially doubled in the month of January alone. The last manual snow survey conducted on January 31 provided numbers showing the snowpack was 98 percent of average-to-date and 71 percent of the April average.
The last record-setting winter was the 2016-17 winter which resulted in an overall snowpack that was the seventh-deepest since 1950 and the largest one since 2011, measuring 94 inches for the April reading at Phillips Station. The third snow survey that year revealed a snowpack that was 161 percent of the April 1 average, and 185 percent of the historical average for the date.
There is hope that the water allocations will ultimately reflect the sizable snowpack and reservoir levels which are currently sitting at above-average numbers. The initial allotments that were recently announced by the Bureau of Reclamation, while appreciated for the timeliness of the announcement, it demonstrated reserved caution regarding what remains of the winter season.