After a rather dry start to the water year, storm weather on the horizon should bring some much-needed snow to California. Rain and snowfall in many areas of California over the weekend with more projected for the coming week. The National Weather Service has issued multiple weather warnings in Northern California. A winter snow watch has been issued for high elevations of the Sierra Nevada, with as much as seven feet of snow projected. Snowfall as low as 2,000 feet in areas of Southern California is also forecasted, with temperatures well-below average.
Despite the recent storms that came through, the overall statewide snowpack remains well below average. As of January 25, the snowpack was recorded at just 40 percent of the average with a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 6.3 inches. In the Southern Sierras, the numbers recorded by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) were three inches of SWE. The snowpack is being measured at just 23 percent of the average. The region started the water year with the seventh driest October-November period on record. Upcoming storm weather is expected to remedy some of the lack of rain and snow thus far this year.
During the first manual snow survey of the season, the automated snow sensor network was reporting only 52 percent of the average. However, Chief of DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Section Sean de Guzman explained that weather models were calling for significant rainfall in January. De Guzman also expressed optimism that there was ample time for the snowpack to build. “While a dry December isn’t ideal for water supply conditions and reservoir storage, the other two-thirds of our historically wettest months still remain in January and February. It’s not uncommon for the bulk of our Sierra snowpack to come from just a handful of winter storms,” de Guzman noted.
DWR will be returning to Phillips Station to perform the second manual snow survey of the season on Tuesday, February 2. There is hope the storm weather coming through California this week will help get the snowpack back to more average levels.