Series of December Storms Provides Good Start to Sierra Snowpack
Jan 6, 2020 at 4:20pm
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today conducted the first manual snow survey of 2020 at Phillips Station. The manual survey recorded 33.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 11 inches, which is 97 percent of average for this location. The SWE measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack, which provides a more accurate forecast of spring runoff.
“While the series of cold weather storms in November and December has provided a good start to the 2020 snowpack, precipitation in Northern California is still below average for this time of year,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “We must remember how variable California’s climate is and what a profound impact climate change has on our snowpack.”
More telling than a survey at a single location are DWR’s electronic readings from 130 stations scattered throughout the State. Measurements indicate that statewide, the snowpack’s SWE is 9.3 inches, or 90 percent of the January 2 average.
“It’s still too early to predict what the remainder of the year will bring in terms of snowpack,” said Sean DeGuzman, chief of DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Section. “Climate change is altering the balance of rain and snow in California. That is why it is important to maintain our measurements of the snowpack to document the change in addition to having critical information to forecast spring runoff.”
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