California Snow Levels Low, Matching Water Storage Levels

Brian German Agri-Business, Water

The latest snow survey highlighted the disparity in California snow levels between regions. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) performed the third manual snow survey at Phillips Station. Readings indicated that the snowpack in the Central and Northern Sierras is faring significantly better than the Southern Sierras.

California Snow Levels

“For our snow survey today, we recorded a snow depth of 56 inches and a snow water content of 21 inches. This results in 86 percent of the average for this date and 83 percent for the April 1 average at this location,” said Sean de Guzman, Chief of DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Section. “Additionally, our statewide automated snow sensor network is reporting 61 percent of average to date as of this morning.”

California snow levels highlight the lack of precipitation that has come through the state. Conditions have been particularly hard on the Southern Sierra snow level. As of March 2, the snow level is at 45 percent of average. De Guzman referenced some of the long-term forecasts they have been monitoring, with some weather changes coming in the weeks ahead.  The pending weather patterns will likely bring some needed precipitation but are unlikely to be significant. “Without any series of storms on the horizon, it’s safe to say that we’ll end this year dry,” de Guzman noted.

The state’s water storage readings also reflect similarities to California snow levels. Dry conditions have left reservoir levels well below average. Last year’s lackluster rainy season has left water storage levels in California mostly below average and well below capacity.

“California’s reservoirs are starting to see the impacts of a second consecutive dry year with the state’s largest reservoirs currently storing anywhere between 38 percent of capacity at Lake Oroville ranging up to 68 percent capacity at Don Pedro,” said de Guzman. “We’re not nearly as well off as we were last year right now with our reservoir storage.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West