Here’s a release from the California Department of Water Resources:
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today conducted the second manual snow survey of the season at Phillips Station. The manual survey recorded 63 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 17 inches, which is 93 percent of average for this location. The SWE measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast.
“The recent blast of winter weather was a welcome sight, but it was not enough to offset this winter’s dry start,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “While there is still a chance we will see additional storms in the coming weeks, the Department and other state agencies are preparing for the potential for a second consecutive year of dry conditions.”
Statewide snow survey measurements reflect those dry conditions. Measurements from DWR’s electronic snow survey stations indicate that statewide the snowpack’s SWE is 12.5 inches, or 70 percent of the February 3 average, and 45 percent of the April 1 average. April 1 is typically when California’s snowpack is the deepest and has the highest SWE.
Fall 2020 was extremely dry, especially in the Sierra Nevada, and follows last year’s below-average snow and precipitation. With only a couple months remaining in California’s traditional wet season, Californians should look at ways to reduce water use at home. Each individual act of conservation makes a difference over time. Visit http://SaveOurWater.com to learn easy ways to save water every day.
From The Los Angeles Times (Erin B. Logan):
The winter storms that dumped heavy snow and rain across California early in 2021 are likely not enough to negate what will be a critically dry year, state water officials believe.
California’s Department of Water Resources on Tuesday recorded a snow depth of 56 inches and water content of 21 inches at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada. The water content of the overall snowpack was 61% of the average for March 2 and 54% of the average for April 1, when it is historically at its maximum.
Surveys of the Sierra snowpack, which normally supplies about 30% of California’s water, are a key element of the department’s water-supply forecast.
December, January and February are typically the wettest part of the “water year,” which starts Oct. 1. In January, when L.A. should have received 3.12 inches of rain, only 2.44 inches fell.
Without any serious storms on the horizon, California will end this year dry, Sean de Guzman, the department’s chief of Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting, said at a Tuesday news conference.
Though Californians have made progress in embracing wise water habits, “our state’s water future remains uncertain due to the variability in precipitation and changing climate,” he said.
California’s reservoirs are beginning to see the impact of a second consecutive year with below-average precipitation across the state, de Guzman said…
Phillips Station recorded more precipitation than other locations around the state. It’s located in the central Sierra, where storm systems in January and February dumped heavy amounts of rain and snow. Stations further south have less precipitation, de Guzman said.
This year is so far similar to 2014, which came in the midst of California’s most recent severe drought, which ran from 2012 to 2016.