Yes, heavy snow closed Interstate 80 for several hours on Christmas, and true, four feet of snow fell on North Lake Tahoe in the days since then. But this season’s first snow survey reveals that California still has far to go to make up for two years of drought. Teams from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) found that statewide the water content of the Sierra snowpack is still only 3/4 of where it should be this time of year.
Conducted today by teams across the state, the survey revealed snow water levels at 54% of normal for the northern Sierra, 76% for the central Sierra, and 99% for the southern Sierra.
Today’s numbers are an improvement over this time last year, when the water content for snow in the Sierra statewide was just 60% of normal, but they are not high enough, say DWR officials.
After two years of drought and last year’s driest spring on record, reservoirs across the state are far below normal levels. Lake Oroville, which we wrote about in the fall, contains less than half the amount of water that’s normal for this date.
The Sierra is going to have to see a lot more snow this winter if Californians want to avoid water restrictions and another big fire season come next summer.
Craig Miller reported on the snow survey on this morning’s broadcast of The California Report.
Use the player below to hear more about the current state of California’s water supply from Department of Water Resources Senior Meterologist Elissa Lynn.[audio:http://www.kqed.org/.stream/anon/climatewatch/Lynn_Snowpack.mp3]