LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – California’s first snowpack survey of the year has revealed that its water supply is far below normal.
Despite rainfall from the recent winter storms, the Sierra snowpack is 67 percent of its average for this time of year, the state Department of Water Resources reported Thursday. Total rainfall for this water year, which began Oct. 1, has been below average.
For context, the Sierra snowpack finished at 159 percent of average for the entire 2017 water year (Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017), helping to bring an end to California’s historic five year drought. However, it finished at only 58 percent of average for the 2018 water year. By February of last year, nearly half the state was back in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
“We still have three wet season months ahead of us, so there’s time for the snowpack to build and improve before it begins to melt, which usually starts happening around April 1,” State Climatologist Michael Anderson said in a news release.
State climatologists say that climate change is creating drastic weather changes, which means that California can flip from drought conditions to heavy rainfall conditions on a dime.
DWR does five snow surveys per year at the Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada, which is located about 20 miles south of Lake Tahoe.
The snowpack accounts for about 30 percent of California’s water supply needs as it melts in the spring, according to DWR, which has been conducting snowpack surveys since 1964.