Tuesday January 30, 2024

Mercury News

California ushered in the New Year with a dry and disappointing snowpack in the Sierra Nevada — just 25% of the historical average.

But in the month since, like the stock market and the 49ers playoff hopes, the picture has improved significantly. On Monday, the snowpack, a vast 400-mile long frozen reservoir that provides nearly one-third of the state’s water supply, had jumped to 52% of normal, boosted by several big storms that have taken ski resorts out of the doldrums in recent weeks and tempered talk of a 2024 “snow drought.”

“We’ve come a long way from where we were at the beginning of the month,” said Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Laboratory near Donner Summit west of Lake Tahoe.

Between Oct. 1 and New Year’s Day, just 35 inches of snow fell at the UC snow lab site, off Interstate 80. On Monday, that seasonal total had grown to 105 inches. For that location, at nearly 6,900-feet elevation, Monday’s total is 61% of the historical average — a number that while below normal is expected to grow in the coming days.

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