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Posted by: thepinetree on 01/04/2018 09:43 AM Updated by: thepinetree on 01/04/2018 09:43 AM
Expires: 01/01/2023 12:00 AM
:

Dry December Produces Below-Average Snowpack

Sacramento, CA...The Department of Water Resources (DWR) first manual snow survey east of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevada found little snowpack, which was predictable after a dry December throughout California. Measurements at Phillips Station revealed a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 0.4 inches, 3 percent of the average SWE of 11.3 inches in early January at Phillips as measured there since 1964 (http://bit.ly/2CjmFiV). SWE is the depth of water that theoretically would result if the entire snowpack melted instantaneously.




“As we’re only a third of the way through California’s three wettest months, it’s far too
early to draw any conclusions about what kind of season we’ll have this year,” DWR
Director Grant Davis said. “California’s great weather variability means we can go
straight from a dry year to a wet year and back again to dry. That’s why California is
focusing on adopting water conservation as a way of life, investing in above- and belowground
storage, and improving our infrastructure to protect our clean water supplies
against disruptions.”

More telling than a survey at a single location, however, are DWR’s electronic readings
today from103 stations scattered throughout the Sierra Nevada. Measurements indicate
the SWE of the northern Sierra snowpack is 2.3 inches, 21 percent of the multi-decade
average for the date. The central and southern Sierra readings are 3.3 inches (29
percent of average) and 1.8 inches 20 percent of average) respectively. Statewide, the
snowpack’s SWE is 2.6 inches, or 24 percent of the Jan. 3 average.

“The survey is a disappointing start of the year, but it’s far too early to draw conclusions
about what kind of a wet season we’ll have this year,” said Frank Gehrke, chief of the
California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program who conducted today’s survey at
Phillips. “There’s plenty of time left in the traditional wet season to reverse the dry trend
we’ve been experiencing.”

California traditionally receives about half of its annual precipitation during December,
January, and February, with the bulk of this precipitation coming from atmospheric
rivers (ARs). So far this winter, an atmospheric high-pressure zone spanning the
western United States has persistently blocked ARs from reaching the state. If that zone
were to move or break up, storms could deliver considerable rainfall and snow this
winter.

Davis noted that forecasting accuracy falls off dramatically after just a week or 10 days
into the future. “Current technology and computer modeling can tell us what our weather
might be weeks into the future, but we’re essentially blind to what the weather will be
beyond the two-week mark,” he said. “That’s why we are putting in so much effort to
improving medium- and long-range modeling.”

The Phillips snow course, near the intersection of Highway 50 and Sierra-at-Tahoe
Road, is one of hundreds that will be surveyed manually throughout the winter. Manual
measurements augment the electronic readings from the snow pillows in the Sierra
Nevada that provide a current snapshot of the water content in the snowpack.

Results of today’s manual readings by DWR near Echo Summit are as follows:
Location Elevation Snow Depth Water Content % of Long-Term Average
Alpha 7,600 feet NA NA NA
Phillips Station 6,800 feet 1.3 inches 0.4 inches 3
Lyons Creek 6,700 feet NA NA NA
Tamarack Flat 6,500 feet 6 inches 1.1 inches 10.3

California’s exceptionally high precipitation last winter and spring has resulted in aboveaverage
storage in 154 reservoirs tracked by the Department. DWR estimates total
storage in those reservoirs at the end of December amounted to 24.1 million acre feet
(MAF), or 110 percent of the 21.9 MAF average for the end of the year. One year ago,
those reservoirs held 21.2 million acre-feet (MAF), 97 percent of average. End-of-year
storage is now the highest since December 2012 (24.3 MAF), which was early in the
first of five consecutive water years of drought in California.

DWR conducts five media-oriented snow surveys each winter near the first of January,
February, March, April, and May. On average, 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 as the snowpack melts to meet the state’s water demand in the summer
and fall.


Comments - Make a comment
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No Subject
Posted on: 2018-01-04 14:53:23   By: Anonymous
 
Oh my, no pictures?


[Reply ]

    Re:
    Posted on: 2018-01-04 14:59:20   By: Anonymous
     
    I got Yer picture.
    Swingin'.

    [Reply ]


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