Snowpack Runoff Forecasts Drop Significantly

Taylor Hillman Drought, Water, Weather

Snowpack runoff
Snowpack runoff numbers have dropped significantly. Experts say that water is being absorbed more quickly, making up for four years of drought conditions.

A California Department of Water Resources meeting in the Central Valley updated attendees on basin and reservoir levels. Interstate Resources Manager Jeanine Jones says we did see some wet weather this winter compared to the the last several years; however El Nino forecasts didn’t do as much as anticipated. “Depending on where you were, you felt either better or worse,” Jones says. “Generally, some areas of the state like northern California got about average. However, there were many areas of the state, particularly Southern California, that precipitation was 50 to 70 percent of average levels. Also the southern Sierra mountains and even part of the Sacramento Valley where precipitation was still below average; so clearly we haven’t recovered from drought yet.”

Jones showed a graph that indicated a sharp drop in snowpack runoff forecasts. She says several years of drought conditions has made it so not all of that snowpack will make it down the mountains. “Essentially we’re paying a debt to the groundwater and soil moisture,” Jones says. “We’ve had four, very dry prior years, so even if we get 100 percent of precipitation, we will absolutely not have 100 percent of runoff. That, combined with the warmer temperatures, we really saw a drop in the runoff forecasts.”