According to reports by the Associated Press, state officials in California have stated that the state’s mountain ranges now have one of the best snowpack levels in the past forty years.
This past week at Phillips Station, which is located close to Lake Tahoe, the California Department of Water Resources carried out the first manual snowpack survey of the year. According to a statement released by the department, they discovered a snow depth that was 55.5 inches, which is 177% greater than the average for the location.
The storm that blasted across the state this past week and caused widespread flooding and dropped several inches of snow on California mountain ranges is responsible for contributing to some of the recent snowfall that has accumulated. The most recent storm and some of the snow that fell in December contributed to a rise in the snowpack across the state which is 174% higher than usual for this time of the year. This information was provided by the Department of Water Resources.
But will these storms be enough to relieve the megadrought that has been raging over the western United States and the dry conditions that were forecasted for the state this winter? It might be too soon to tell at this point. Snowfall in the early part of 2022 demonstrated that just because the year got off to a good start does not guarantee that there would be continued snowfall, but officials are allowing themselves to be cautiously optimistic for the time being.
In a press release issued by the department, Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit Manager Sean de Guzman stated, “Big snow totals are always nice, but we still have a long way to go before the key April 1 total.” It’s always fantastic to be over average this early in the season, but we need to be resilient and remember what happened the previous year.
Even if January through March of 2023 turns out to be similar to those of the previous year, we will still end the water year in a severe drought with only half of the snowpack that we typically see during this time of year.
The Sierra Nevada mountains received over 17 feet of snow as a result of a snowfall that occurred in December 2021. But by March 2022, the officials at Phillips Station in Lake Tahoe reported that there was only a quarter of an inch of snow. According to the data provided by the water resources department, the typical snowfall in that region should reach a depth of five feet by the conclusion of the winter season.
Across the entirety of the state, snow levels were only 38% of what they should have been at that point in the year. Because of the low snow levels, there will be little increase in the amount of meltwater that enters California’s rivers and reservoirs. The subsequent survey of the snowpack is scheduled to take place at the beginning of February.
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