Posted on: January 9, 2018

The Sierra Nevada Snowpack is at 24% of Normal

After an above-average snowfall and rainfall last year, California’s snowfall levels are struggling to catch up to average this year. While reservoirs throughout California are still mostly above average levels, officials were hoping for a continuation of the high levels of snowfall this winter.

A recent survey by the Chief of California’s Snow Measurements of the snowpack near Echo Summit found just 1.3 inches of snow on average, and a snow water content of 0.4 inches. That is only 3% of the normal 11.3 inches of snow normally found at the site in early January.

However, the survey is mainly ceremonial and not representative of the situation across California. In the Sierras, electronic readings taken using snow pillows show the snowpack at 24% of normal. California water officials are also quick to point out that California is only 1/3 of the way through its wet season.

As we’re only a third of the way through California’s three wettest months, it’s far too early to draw any conclusions about what kind of season we’ll have this year,” Department of Water Resources Director Grant Davis said. “California’s great weather variability means we can go straight from a dry year to a wet year and back again to dry.”

Upcoming storms are expected throughout California, which is an encouraging sign. Even with cooler weather, snowfall in most mountain areas is only expected to hit about 2 inches.

Even with this dry winter, California’s reservoirs are at above average capacity due to last year’s remarkably wet winter season. Last winter’s snowpack reached 185% of normal. This stored water gives the state significant amounts of water to work with even if this year remains dry.

California Director of Water Resources Grant Davis commented that while they would like to see more snow at this time of year, the anxiety level is not any higher than normal.

What does this mean for East County? We would like to see high snow and rain levels throughout the winter in Northern California. However, San Diego has a diverse water portfolio which helps to mitigate the effects of California’s erratic weather patterns. To learn more about San Diego’s diversification efforts, click here

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