Water Experts Take New Snow Survey

There is plenty of snow in the forecast this week, which should improve things for the next snow survey.

Snow Survey

The Department of Water Resources snow surveyors stuck their rods in the snow Tuesday and confirmed that California’s mountain snow pack holds far less water than normal for this time of year.

The snow surveys help officials determine the amount of frozen water that will become fresh water come spring. The melt flows into streams, reservoirs and aquifers.

Tuesday's survey found the levels just 30-percent of normal for this date. 

”The weather news so far this winter has not been good,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin.  “We still have good reservoir storage due to last winter’s storms, but we would like to see more rain and snow this season.”

The mountain snow melt provides approximately one-third of the water for California’s households, farms and industries.  Unless conditions change this winter, water from the snow pack will be substantially less than normal, according to DWR.

  • The DWR said one bright spot is that good reservoir storage carried over from last winter. Statewide, reservoir storage is 110 percent of normal for the date.
  • Lake Oroville, which is the principal storage reservoir, is at 100 percent of average for the date.
  • Lake Shasta is at 94 percent of its normal storage level for the date. 
  • San Luis Reservoir is at 99 percent of average for the date. 

The water storage was made possible by the record amount of snow last year. Fast forward 12 months and we are facing record lows.

Both years come under the weather pattern called La Nina, but NBC Bay Area meteorologist Jeff Ranieri says El Nino is a pattern of extremes. Last year was extremely wet. This year is extremely dry.

The other thing you should know about the snow is that the forecast calls for a lot of it to fall this week. Accumulation could be between two and four feet, and up to five feet at the highest elevations, according to the experts.  The storms will move out just in time for the weekend.

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