Monday, 15 July 2024

Lake level, snowpack below average


This January is already being hailed by some agriculturalists around the state as one of the driest in memory, which only worsened freeze conditions that hit the state earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) will hold its second snow survey of the season on Feb. 2 in the Sierras, near Lake Tahoe.

The first survey, held Jan. 4, found the state's snowpack at 59 percent of average for the time of year.

However, DWR Chief Hydrologist Maury Roos said then that they don't begin to worry about drought conditions unless they've had “multiple dry years strung together coupled with below average storage conditions.”

Roos said that the last several years of runoff and reservoir storage have been strong – running at about 120 percent.

DWR snowpack measurements from Monday showed a statewide snowpack at 44 percent of average, down by 15 percent since last month.

The snow surveys are important because much of the state's water is contained in the snowpack, and the surveys give hydrologists a clearer picture of what to expect for water supply in the coming year.

Earlier this month, the state released its California Strategic Growth Plan, which reports that the state's snowpack between 1956 and 2000 averaged a capacity of 15 million acre feet. Climate change in the next 43 years is expected to reduce the snowpack capacity by 25 percent, the report says.

Here in Lake County, Clear Lake's level as of Monday night – 3.54 – was the fourth lowest reading for Jan. 29 in the last 11 years, according to historical water data provided by the Lake County Water Resources Division.

That's not surprising when considering that DWR gauges around the county showing little to no rain this entire month.

DWR hasn't recorded Lake Pillbury's current level, but in December Pillsbury was measured at about 45,000 acre feet, not quite half of its 80,000 acre foot capacity. However, the December numbers matched seasonal averages.

Indian Valley Reservoir, which has a 301,000 acre-foot capacity, had 220,000 acre feet as of Jan. 28, which is above seasonal averages.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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