Survey finds 66 percent of average snow water equivalent

The Union Democrat –

Snowpack about 90 miles north of Sonora showed 43.5 inches of snow depth Wednesday and snow water equivalent of 16.5 inches, which is 66 percent of average for the date and location.

The manual snow survey results from Phillips Station off Highway 50 confirmed the 2019-2020 wet season has been a below average to dry year so far, state Department of Water Resources staff said Wednesday.

March storms that brought 5 inches of precipitation to Mother Lode watersheds and other parts of the Sierra Nevada were not enough to offset what was already a dry winter season, which included the driest February on record.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Department of Water Resources staff did their fourth snow survey of 2020 on Wednesday with limited staff and without news media.

Measurements from electronic snow sensors in the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere in California showed the statewide snowpack’s water equivalent is 15.2 inches, or 53 percent of the April average. Snowpack was at 56 percent of average for April 1 in the Central Sierra.

“While today’s survey results show our snowpack is better off than it was just last month, they still underscore the need for widespread, wise use of our water supplies,” Karlan Nemeth, the state DWR director, said Wednesday. “California’s climate continues to show extreme unpredictability, and February’s record dryness is a clear example of the extremes associated with climate change.”

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