California’s Sierra Nevada Makes a Remarkable Recovery from ‘Snow drought’

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Image by National Weather Service, Sacramento, CA, Data courtesy CDEC/DWR

The Los Angeles Times (LAT) reports that recent storms brought the snow levels in California’s Sierra Nevada’s nearly up to normal for the time of year. The LAT writes:

Concerns that California might remain in a “ snow drought ” this winter have eased after a series of storms this month blanketed the Sierra Nevada with a near-average amount of snow for this time of year.

The snowpack across the mountain range now measures 86% of normal for the date, according to state data, up from 28% of normal at the start of the year.

The National Weather Service out of Sacramento, CA verifies the LAT’s reporting, posting on their Facebook page, “[t]he California snowpack is currently 86% of normal for this date statewide, 99% of normal for the northern Sierra, 82% for the central, and 80% for the south.” (See the feature image at the top).

The snowpack was recently added to by a series of significant winter storms that passed through California.

A healthy snowpack is very important for California water supplies as it provides water for agricultural, industrial, and personal use through the summer.

The Los Angeles Times article goes to quote an expert on watershed sciences:

“Overall, I’m not worried about drought for the rest of this year,” said Jay Lund, a professor emeritus and vice director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

“We have a fairly good snowpack right now — not great, but it’s not unusually dry,” Lund said. “And even if it were to get dry, we’re coming into it with a full set of reservoirs.”

The most recent report from the Department of Water Resources (seen below) for California shows that many reservoirs are nearly full throughout the state including Shasta Lake, the state’s largest reservoir, which is now 87% full. The second largest reservoir, Lake Oroville, stands at 82% of capacity. With additional snow melt through the spring and summer, it is expected these reservoirs will maintain healthy operational levels.

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