Wednesday May 10, 2023

The Washington Post

California’s “big melt” is underway, and if forecasts bear out, much of the water being held in mountain snow will flow downhill in May and June. But at the moment, the state’s snowpack remains huge — about three times its normal size for this time of year — and depending on coming conditions, the snow can either dissipate slowly or quickly cause trouble.

Snowmelt often accelerates in May with warmer weather, longer days and a higher sun angle.

“May is typically one of, if not the, month with the most melt,” said Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist at the University of California at Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab. “There is definitely going to be a whole lot of melt coming our way.”

Although it started out at a higher point, California’s snowpack is already melting faster than it did in 1983, a year of historic flooding in the San Joaquin Valley, thanks to a dry April and a heat wave late in the month.

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