The winter in Northern California began strong in the final six weeks of 2019, bringing strong storms to the Sierra and ensuring that California snowpack and water supply was strong leading into 2020. But now, following a mostly dry January, the state’s snowpack has dropped to 72 percent of average.
The National Weather Service released a diagram of the average California snowpack from January to April and shows how we now sit below average for snowpack:
The snow pack across the state it sitting at 72% of average to date. No major snow storms are expected in the next week but some light snow will be possible on Sunday. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/mnOvNNwysK— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) February 1, 2020
On January 30th, the California Department of Water Resources conducted their second physical survey of the snowpack at Phillips Station in the Sierra, showing that location at 79 percent of average, a stark difference from the 97 percent average recorded on January 2:
Today, DWR conducted the 2nd Phillips Station snow survey of 2020. The manual survey recorded 40.5" of snow depth & a snow water equivalent of 14.5", which is 79% of average for this location. Statewide, the Sierra snowpack is 72% of average.— CA – DWR (@CA_DWR) January 30, 2020
More here: https://t.co/mCwjrYHAbr pic.twitter.com/5w5gnO11O9
Meanwhile, reservoir levels are relatively healthy, with two of the four major Northern California reservoirs holding over 100 percent of historical average. As of January 28, Shasta lake sits at 113 percent, Trinity Lake sits at 116 percent, Lake Oroville sits at 95 percent and Folsom Lake recorded 96 percent of historical average.
There’s no doubt that January 2020 was somewhat disappointing in terms of snowfall. Although some NorCal ski resorts have already recorded over 200 inches of snow, that was mostly from the robust snowfall at the end of November and throughout December 2019.
Let’s hope February has some significant snowfall to replenish the snowpack and reservoir levels.