On Thursday morning the Department of Water Resources (DWR) performed its second 2020 snow survey which revealed a snowpack that is nearly on pace for the historical average for this point in the year. Members of the media were on hand at Phillips Station to watch DWR staff measure the water content in the snowpack, which is used as a baseline for determining potential water supplies for later in the year.
“We recorded a snow depth of 40.5 inches and a snow water content of 14.5 inches. That results in 79 percent of an average February and 58 percent of the April 1 average here at this location,” said Sean de Guzman, chief of DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Section. “This is just one out of over 260 snow courses that we have scattered up and down the Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascades that are measured by our different cooperators of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys program.”
The second 2020 snow survey revealed a modest increase from a few weeks ago when the snow depth measured 33.5 inches. Statewide, the level of snow and precipitation were reported to be well below average but there is still ample time left in the season for that to turn around. At this point last year the snow depth at Phillips Station was 50 inches, which put the snowpack at 98 percent of the average.
When asked about forecasting potential drought conditions Guzman explained that droughts are a slowly developing issue and there was no cause for concern just yet. “April 1 is typically when our snowpack peaks in terms of snow water content. So, if you remember back to April 1, 2015, this field was completely bare with grass; so we’re standing currently on four to five feet of snow, so I’d say we’re in decent shape right now,” said Guzman.