Thursday, 23 May 2024

Latest snow survey shows improving snowpack

SACRAMENTO – The state's snowpack levels are looking better, according to the agency that monitors snow levels and water supply for the state.


The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the third of five snow surveys for the season on Friday off Highway 50 near Lake Tahoe.


The manual measurements were conducted at elevations ranging between 6,500 and 7,600 feet, according to DWR officials. Snow depth measured between 63.8 inches and 86.6 inches.


The average snowpack measurement in the Sierras was 80.5 percent of normal.


That measurement is higher than the computer-generated reports from electronic snow sensors, which on Friday recorded the Northern Sierra snow water equivalents at 71 percent of normal. The sensors also recorded the Central Sierra at 66 percent and the Southern Sierra at 55 percent.


Statewide, the snowpack is at 64 percent of normal, officials said.


Those results are much improved from February's measurements, which were at 40 percent of normal. January's readings had been slightly better, at 59 percent of normal snowpack.


DWR Hydrology Branch Chief Arthur Hinojosa says the results are encouraging.


“Above average precipitation in February has certainly improved our water supply outlook,” said Hinojosa. “Although not enough to offset a very dry January, the latest survey shows statewide average snow pack water content is nearly 65 percent of average to date compared with only 40 percent four weeks ago.”


DWR Snow Surveys Chief Frank Gehrke says the current readings “put us about where we were at this time last year.”


Reservoir storage remains above normal and groundwater storage for most areas is good, DWR reported.


The next survey is tentatively scheduled for March 27.


Snow-water content is important in determining the coming year's water supply. The measurements help hydrologists prepare water supply forecasts as well as provide others, such as hydroelectric power companies and the recreation industry, with much needed data.


DWR coordinates monitoring as part of the multi-agency California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program. Surveyors from more than 50 agencies and utilities visit hundreds of snow measurement courses in California’s mountains each month to gauge the amount of water in the snow pack.


Information on reservoir levels can be found at watersupplyconditions.water.ca.gov/current_conditions.pdf; for real-time snow-water content readings, visit cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/lsreports/DLYSWEQ.


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


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