January Storms Boost Snowpack to 100% of Average

  • by Will Holbert
  • Jan 31, 2019
  • Water News

SACRAMENTO – Today, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the second Phillips Station snow survey of 2019. The manual survey recorded 50 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 18 inches, which is 98% of average for this location. Statewide, the Sierra snowpack is 100% of average.

By comparison, on Feb. 1, 2018 measurements at Phillips Station revealed a SWE of 2.6 inches, only 14% of the early-February average. And last year at this time, measurements at this location were at 30% of average.

“The latest results deliver good news for our water supply going forward,” said ACWA Executive Director Dave Eggerton. “The dramatic changes in conditions through atmospheric rivers demonstrate the need for continued innovation in forecasting technology to maximize the benefits provided by these weather events.”

Results from snow surveys like the one conducted today at Phillips Station are critical to the management of California’s water. More than 50 local, state, and federal agencies work together as part of the Cooperative Snow Surveys Program to collect data from more than 300 snow courses throughout California.

“The data we collect allows us to forecast how much snowmelt will run off into our streams and reservoirs,” said John Paasch, Chief of DWR’s Hydrology and Flood Office. “Snowpack is an important factor in determining how DWR manages California’s water resources each year to sustainably meet demands.”

On average, the Sierra snowpack supplies about 30% of California’s water needs as it melts in the spring and early summer to meet water demands in the summer and fall.

“The snowpack across California is on par with the historical average for this time of year, thanks in no small part to an atmospheric river that brought heavy snowstorms to the Sierra Nevada. Typically, California relies on a handful of large storms like we saw earlier this year.” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “It’s a start, but the next two or three months will determine what it means for our reservoirs and overall water supply.”

 

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