SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The snowpack at Phillips Station, south of Lake Tahoe, is at 177% of the average, according to the Department of Water Resources (DWR). That result was part of the third snow survey of the season that took place on Friday, showing 116.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 41.5 inches recorded.
Officials say that while winter storms have helped the snowpack and reservoirs, many rural areas are still experiencing water supply challenges – especially communities that rely on groundwater supplies which have been depleted due to prolonged drought, according to officials.
“It will also take more than one good year to begin recovery of the state’s groundwater basins,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth.
The substantial snowpack comes after Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order directing state agencies to review and provide recommendations on the state’s drought response actions by the end of April, including the possibility of terminating specific emergency provisions that are no longer needed, once there is greater clarity about the hydrologic conditions this year.
Despite state officials describing the snowpack as above-average, they warn that the snowpack varies considerably by region. The Southern Sierra snowpack is currently 209% of its April 1 average and the Central Sierra is at 175% of its April 1 average. However, the critical Northern Sierra, where the state’s largest surface water reservoirs are located, is at 136% percent of its April 1 average.
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“The recent storms over the past week broke a month-long dry spell in a dramatic way,” said DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit Manager Sean de Guzman. “We are hopeful that we will see more cold storms to add to our snowpack for the next month and help set up a long, slow melt period into spring.”
Officials say Californians should still continue to use water wisely. The DWR encourages Californians to visit SaveOurWater.com for water-saving tips and information as more swings between wet and dry conditions will continue in the future.