2021 Brings Storms, But Current Conditions Show More Are Needed

  • by ACWA Staff
  • Feb 3, 2021
  • Water News

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today conducted the second manual snow survey of the season at Phillips Station and although the statewide snowpack has improved since the last survey, the results indicate another dry year remains a possibility.

The survey recorded 63 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 17 inches, which is 93% of average for this location and 63% of April 1 average. The SWE measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and April 1 is typically when the snowpack reaches its peak water content.

“The recent blast of winter weather was a welcome sight, but it was not enough to offset this winter’s dry start,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth stated in a news release. “While there is still a chance we will see additional storms in the coming weeks, the Department and other state agencies are preparing for the potential for a second consecutive year of dry conditions.”

Though February has started off dry, there are still a couple months for storms to make up for the deficit to bring California to a normal water year.

“Together with our member agencies across the state, ACWA works every day to help achieve more resilient water supplies for California in preparation for whatever conditions are experienced each year and over time,” said ACWA Executive Director Dave Eggerton. “This year is no different. Whether it turns out to be an average or dry year, we know that our members are prepared and will continue to invest in local, long-term solutions that increase resiliency during dry times and in anticipation of a changing climate.”

In addition to the manual surveys, DWR collects readings from 130 electronic snow sensors scattered throughout the state. Measurements indicate that statewide, the snowpack’s water equivalent is 12.5 inches, or 70% of the Feb. 3 average.

Reservoir levels in Central and Northern California also generally remain lower than average. As of Feb. 2, Lake Shasta, the state’s largest reservoir located in Northern California, was at 47% of capacity (69% of historical average). San Luis Reservoir in Central California was at 52% of capacity (66% of historical average). Castaic Lake in Southern California was at 77% of capacity (93% of historical average) and Perris Lake was at 93% of capacity (114% of historical average).

ACWA has prepared talking points to help member agencies provide customers, stakeholders and media with valuable insight into member agencies’ preparedness for dry weather. The talking points are available for members on ACWA’s website.

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