Winter storms swell Sierra snowpack

Snow survey records 200% average

April’s snow survey shows the Sierra Nevada snowpack is now 162% of average to date. 

The Department of Water Resources says it’s the fourth best snow/water ratio on record. 

A measurement on a snowy Tuesday at Phillips Station near Lake Tahoe found a snow depth of 106.5 inches and a snow water equivalent of 51 inches — The fourth best snow water content historically at this site. 

“Our April survey is very significant because this is typically when we see the deepest snowpack with the most water content, and our water managers use that to judge what type of melt off we’re going to get,” DWR spokesman Chris Orrock said.

Experts say a very wet winter has left California drought-free for the first time since December 2011.

Snowpack at Phillips Station is at 200% average.

California has experienced more than 30 atmospheric rivers since the start of the water year, with six in February alone, and statewide snow water equivalent has nearly tripled since February 1.

“While this is great news for the state’s water supply, these stark contrasts from year to year and month to month remind us how variable California’s climate and water system is. Swinging from drought to flood, flood to drought, with very little normal in between,” Kris Tjernell with DWR said.

On average, the Sierra snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs as it melts into streams and reservoirs in the spring and early summer to meet water demands throughout the year.

The April results are a key indicator for the rest of the year’s water supply.

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