California experienced some important snowpack increases but levels are still below average according to the most recent snow survey. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the second manual snow survey at Phillips Station on Wednesday. Measurements were an improvement over the previous survey, but still below average.
“Our survey today recorded a snow depth of 63 inches and a snow water content of 17 inches. This results in 93 percent of average to date and 68 percent of the April 1 average here at this location,” said Sean DeGuzman, Chief of DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Section. “Additionally, our statewide automated snow sensor network is currently reporting 70 percent of average to date as of this morning.”
Despite still being below average, conditions are slightly better than they were at this point last year. The storms that recently came through California brought some notable snowpack increases, however, it was not enough to bring numbers up to average. “Our water supply outlook is looking a lot better compared to where we were last week. But we’re still nowhere near out of the woods,” said DeGuzman.
La Nina weather systems like the one California is currently experiencing, typically pushes a lot of storm weather into the Pacific Northwest and British Colombia. Some of that weather can also impact northern California, which is why the northern snowpack is outpacing the southern sierras. As one of the wettest months of the year, February still has the potential to help make up some of the deficit.
“For the first three months of the water year – which were October, November, and December – precipitation statewide was only 39 percent of average,” DeGuzman noted. “To make up for those early dry months we’ll need multiple days of above-average precipitation. At this point, it looks like we’re just going to continue to be chasing average conditions for the foreseeable future.”