Latest Snow Survey Shows Improvement for Sierra Snowpack

  • by Department of Water Resources
  • Feb 29, 2024
  • Water News

SACRAMENTO – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today conducted the third snow survey of the season at Phillips Station. The manual survey recorded 47.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 18 inches, which is 77 percent of average for this location. The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast.

Today’s results reflect continued improvement in the snowpack since the slow and dry start to the water year. DWR’s electronic readings from 130 stations placed throughout the state indicate that the statewide snowpack’s snow water equivalent is 18.7 inches, or 80 percent of average for this date, an improvement from just 28 percent of average on January 1. The statewide snowpack is currently only 70 percent of the critical April 1 average, when the snowpack is typically at its peak. An incoming storm is expected to bring several feet of snow to the Sierra Nevada this weekend.

“We are now in the last month of the traditional snow season and while conditions have dramatically improved since the beginning of the year, March will be critical in determining if we finish above or below average,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “No matter how the season ends, we are ready to take advantage of the water we do have to benefit communities, agriculture, and the environment, and continue storing stormwater in our groundwater basins for future use.”

While California saw a number of storms in January and February that caused flooding in many areas of the state, the storms were warmer than average, dropping more precipitation as rain rather than snow, especially in Southern California. Overall statewide precipitation is 103 percent of average for this date, running well ahead of the snowpack. While surface water storage in California’s major reservoirs is currently 119 percent above average and the state continues to benefit from efforts to capture and store as much water as possible, the latest forecasts from DWR project snow runoff could be below average this spring due to the unusually dry start to the water year. DWR recently increased projected allocations from the State Water Project, and the forecasted allocation is expected to be revised again next month based on recent storms.

“California has seen several extreme climate events so far this water year, including record rainfall in Southern California,” said Dr. Michael Anderson, State Climatologist with DWR. “While this pushed statewide precipitation above average, the snowpack still has not caught up from the dry conditions earlier this winter and local conditions still vary significantly from region to region. The upcoming storm will deliver more snow, but the critical month of March will have to deliver enough snowpack to make up for the dry fall and slow start to the year.”

On average, the Sierra snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs. Its natural ability to store water is why the Sierra snowpack is often referred to as California’s “frozen reservoir.” Data from these snow surveys and forecasts produced by DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit are important factors in determining how DWR manages the state’s water resources.

DWR conducts five snow surveys at Phillips Station each winter near the first of each month, January through April and, if necessary, May. The next and possibly final survey is tentatively scheduled for April 2.

For California’s current hydrological conditions, visit https://cww.water.ca.gov

Suggested Resources

15 RESOURCES prev next
Coalition Letter: Proposed Rule for Principles, Requirements and Guidelines for Water Resources

To: Acting Director for Policy and Legislation, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army Subject: Agency Proposed Rule for Specific […]

2024 Water Awareness Month Toolkit

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Priority Issues Bulletin

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Southern California Steelhead Status Review Submission to Commission

Agency: California Fish and Game Commission Subject: California Department of Fish and Wildlife Southern California Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) Status Review Submission […]

Regulatory Roundup

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Proposed Making Conservation a California Way of Life Regulation Comment Letter

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Comment Letter – Proposed Making Conservation a California Way of Life Regulation Letter excerpt: […]

Quench Toolkit Spring 2024

ACWA is encouraging member agencies to utilize these resources to take advantage of ACWA’s QuenchCA campaign branding and provide broader […]

2023 Year In Review

ACWA’s “2023 Year in Review” outlines ACWA’s advocacy wins, awards and services provided to members, as well as events and […]

Groundwater Awareness Week 2024 Toolkit

ACWA encourages member agencies to participate in National Groundwater Awareness Week March 10-16 to raise the public’s awareness of groundwater […]

Dam Safety Fact Sheet

ACWA, along with the California Municipal Utilities Association and California Alliance for Jobs, has released a Dam Safety Fact Sheet, […]

Making Conservation a CA Way of Life Fact Sheet – January 2024

  ACWA’s Making Conservation a California Way of Life Fact Sheet provides a summary of the State Water Board’s draft regulatory […]

Comment Letter on Sacramento/Delta Draft Staff Report

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Comment Letter – Sacramento/Delta Draft Staff Report Letter excerpt: The Association of California Water […]

Comments on Proposed Updates to the Drinking Water Cost Assessment Model

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Proposed Updates to the Drinking Water Cost Assessment Model: Other Essential Infrastructure, Admin Needs, […]

Draft White Paper: Proposed Updates for the 2024 Drinking Water Needs Assessment

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Draft White Paper Discussion On: Proposed Updates for the 2024 Drinking Water Needs Assessment […]

Division of Drinking Water Reporting Toolkit

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
Sutton Named GM at Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District

WILLOWS – Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID) named Jeff Sutton as its new General Manager, effective May 1. Sutton, an attorney, […]

April 19, 2024 ACWA News Available

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Local Control Remains Key to SGMA’s Success as Act Notches 10th Year

Signed into law during a severe drought, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act turns 10 this year during a much wetter […]

Spotlight April 2024: Members Share Thoughts on SGMA at 10-Year Milestone

Aaron Fukuda keeps wondering when he’ll see Porsches and Ferraris driving past his office in rural Tulare County. But so […]

MWDOC Hosts Earth Day Event at Coronet Park

Since 1970, Americans have celebrated Earth Day, and over the past five decades, we’ve increased what we know about preserving […]

State Water Board Adopts Rulemaking for Chromium-6 MCL

The State Water Resources Control Board today adopted a new Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 10 parts per billion (ppb) […]

Groups Release Video Supporting Voluntary Agreements

Today, the State Water Contractors and Northern California Water Association released a short, informative video about the Agreements to Support […]

JCSD Crowned as California’s Wastewater Collection System of the Year

The Jurupa Community Services District (JCSD) is proud to announce its award as the Wastewater Collection System of the Year […]

EBMUD Board Welcomes New Member

OAKLAND – The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) welcomes a new board member to represent Lafayette, Alamo, Diablo, Danville, […]

9th Circuit Upholds SCV Water Judgement for Remediation of Groundwater Contamination

On April 15, 2024, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed a $68.5 million judgment for SCV […]

Orange County Water District Swiftly Responds to EPA PFAS Ruling

FOUNTAIN VALLEY – The Orange County Water District (OCWD) and its 19 retail water providers are intensifying their collaborative efforts […]

Sacramento-Area Water Providers Launch Summer Strong Yard Contest

Did you ditch the thirsty lawn, add vibrant low-water native plants, or install water-wise drip irrigation? Is your yard ready […]

April 2024 Priority Issues Update Now Available

The April 2024 Priority Issues Update is now available online to members. The update is a summary of the latest […]

EPA Announces National Regulation for PFAS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a new national maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 4.0 parts per trillion (ppt) […]

DSRSD Adopts New Energy Policy to Enhance Sustainability and Efficiency

DUBLIN – On February 20, 2024, the Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) Board of Directors unanimously adopted a new […]