Snow Survey Shows Conditions Remain Below Average

Brian German Agri-Business, Water

The second snow survey of the season at Phillips Station highlighted a lack of snow for the current water year. “Even though the storms during January slightly helped out our snowpack, we’re only about half of where we should be for this time of year,” said Sean de Guzman, Manager of the Flood Operations Section at the California Department of Water Resources.

Snow Survey
COURTESY: California Department of Water Resources

The results from the snow survey recorded 29 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 10 inches, which is 58 percent of the average for this location. “Our statewide snowpack is currently at 52 percent of average based off of our automated snow sensor network,” de Guzman explained.

While still below average, the snow readings reflect an improvement from just 28 percent of the average on January 1. However, it is also far below the levels recorded in 2023. At this time last year, the California snowpack was measured at 214 percent of the average. During the February snow survey at Phillips Station last year, officials were standing on seven feet of snow. The lower-than-average snowpack can be partially attributed to warmer storm systems compared to last year.

“Most of the storms we’ve had this year have been on the warmer side, meaning that that rain/snow transition line has been creeping up further and further compared to years past,” said de Guzman. “It’s very possible we could see above average rainfall combined with below average snowpack, which is also referred to as a ‘snow drought.’”

Although snow conditions are trending lower than average, water storage levels continue to remain strong. “During the month of January reservoirs have actually captured about 1.5-million-acre feet of storage, which puts our statewide reservoir storage at roughly 116 percent of average to date,” said de Guzman.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West