Final Snow Survey of the Season Nearly Twice the Average

Brian GermanWater

The fifth and final snow survey was performed on May 2 by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) at Phillips Station.  The results from the survey demonstrated a cold, dense snowpack that far surpasses the average for this point in the season.

final snow survey


“We just finished measuring the snow course and we found 47 inches of snow depth with 27.5 inches of snow water equivalent,” said DWR Public Information Officer Chris Orrock.  “That equates to about 188 percent of average for this location at this date and that’s the 14th-most on record for this location in the beginning of May.”

The overall snowpack reached its peak for the season on March 31, with the April snow survey measuring 106.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water content of 51 inches.  California water supplies should be in a much better condition compared to last year when the May 1 snow level was only 33 percent of the average statewide.  The 2019 snowpack is the fifth-largest on record.

“This was a great year for our snowpack, well above average.  We’re at 144 percent statewide with 31 percent of snow water equivalent,” said Orrock, who also noted the snowpack’s cold temperature will be beneficial going into summer.  “This snow has a nice cold crust on top of it which will stop it from melting off all at once.  We’re hoping for a slow melt to replenish our reservoirs as we use it getting into those dry, warm summer months.”

The measurements taken from the final snow survey should equate to continual run-off until late summer.  “California’s cities and farms can expect ample water supplies this summer,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “But it’s critical that it’s put to use replenishing groundwater basins and storage reservoirs for the next inevitable drought. Every resident and business can also help California by using water as efficiently as possible.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West