Photo of Phillips Station snow survey via Department of Water Resources.

published on May 1, 2020 - 9:22 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Despite storms in March and April, the final survey of the snow pack did not yield good findings for this water year.

The survey performed by the Department of Water Resources at Phillips Station recorded 1.5 inches of snow depth and .5 inches snow water equivalent. This constitutes only 3% of the May average for that location in South Lake Tahoe.

Measurements from the 130 electronic snow sensors throughout the state measured 8.4 inches of snow depth, or 37% of the May average.

“March and April storms brought needed snow to the Sierras, with the snowpack reaching its peak on April 9, however those gains were not nearly enough to offset a very dry January and February,” said Sean de Guzman, chief of DWR’s Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecast Section. “The last two weeks have seen increased temperatures leading to a rapid reduction of the snowpack. Snowmelt runoff into the reservoirs is forecasted to be below average.”

The water year, which begins in July, has been “variable” according to the press release. October and November were dry while December rains measured 120% of the average for the year. January and February were both notably dry, while March and April rains brought snowpack to its point April 9, measuring 66% of the average for that time of the year.

Snowpacks generally supply 30% of California’s water.


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