On New Years Day, Department of Water Resources officials made their annual trek into the Sierra Nevada to measure snowpack totals that were a depressing 67 percent of average. Fast-forward just three weeks later, a snowy January brought snowpack levels to 115 percent of average. Now, at the end of February, DWR once again measured the Sierra Nevada snowpack, and it currently sits at 153 percent of average.
Snow surveyors visited Phillips Station near Sierra-at-Tahoe for the third snowpack measurement of 2019. With 113 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 43.5 inches, the snowpack had doubled just over the month of February.
“What a difference a month and a year makes,” said Chris Orrock, Information Officer for the Department of Water Resources. “The snowpack were seeing here today is great for our reservoir storage throughout the state. It’s excellent news.”
The snowpack in the Sierra provides around 30 percent of the state’s water and the annual snowpack measurements gives the agency an idea of how it can manage the water throughout the water year.
During the 2018 survey around the same time, surveyors measured 13.5 only inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 1.5 inches.
“The past few years have really shown us how variable California’s climate is and what a profound impact climate change has had on our water resources,” said Erin Mellon from the DWR Public Affairs Office. “Our recent historic drought was followed by a record-breaking year of precipitation in 2017. No matter what the rest of the year has in store for us, we’re always reminded as Californians that conservation must be a way of life because we don’t know what next year will have in store for us.”
February saw historic snowfall in the Sierra Nevada, with three ski resorts recording historic snowfall numbers for the month and Mammoth Mountain boasting the most snow in North America.