Thursday, January 29, 2015

Scant precip, warm temps make for weak snowpack

As expected, the California Department of Water Resources found very little in the way of snow today when officials conducted their second manual snow survey of the season.

From the DWR:
The absence of precipitation in January, normally California’s wettest month, has combined with warmer-than-average temperatures to produce a dismally meager snowpack for a drought-stricken state.

Today’s second manual snow survey of the season found a snow water equivalent of just 2.3 inches in the scant snowpack near Echo summit approximately 90 miles east of Sacramento. That is just 12 percent of the long-term average for this time of year at that particular snow course. Statewide, the snow water equivalent as measured by more than 100 sensors was 4 inches today, or 25 percent of the historical average. That’s down from December 30 when DWR conducted the winter’s first manual survey; the statewide snow water equivalent was 50 percent of that date’s long-term average.

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has measured the winter snowpack’s water content for decades. In normal years, the snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs as it melts in the spring and early summer. The greater the snowpack water content, the greater the likelihood California’s reservoirs will receive ample runoff to meet the state’s water demand in the summer and fall.

Unfortunately, today’s manual snow survey makes it likely that California’s drought will run through a fourth consecutive year. DWR managers said heavy precipitation and cooler temperatures in the next three months would be required for the snowpack to build and give Californians hope for beginning to recover from drought this year.

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