Current Sierra Nevada Snowpack Report

SACRAMENTO. 24 February 2011  — The Department of Water Resources (DWR) will conduct its third manual snow survey of the winter at 11 a.m., Tuesday, March 1, 2011, near Echo Summit on Highway 50, not far from Lake Tahoe.  Currently, electronic readings reflect an increase in snowpack water content for this month. The water content is at 100 percent of the April 1 seasonal average, with an increase of 6 inches from February 1.

After a wet December, conditions were unusually dry during January and the first half of February. Then a week of storms delivered almost normal amounts for the month, offsetting the deficiency of the first two weeks. The statewide precipitation for January was about 30 percent of average. “We are hopeful March will help improve our water supply, especially with the upcoming weather predictions,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “With our ever-changing weather conditions, as well as delivery restrictions, conservation will continue to remain as a top priority.”

Manual surveys are conducted up and down the state’s mountain ranges on or about the first of the winter months. The manual surveys supplement and provide accuracy checks to real-time electronic readings as the snowpack builds, then melts in early spring and summer. April 1 is when snowpack water content normally is at its peak before the spring runoff.

The State Water Project (SWP) delivers water to more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland. The mountain snowpack provides approximately one-third of the water for California’s households, industry and farms as it slowly melts into streams and reservoirs. DWR estimates it will be able to deliver 60 percent of requested SWP water this year. The estimate will be adjusted as hydrologic and regulatory conditions continue to develop.