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First snowpack of the year brings below average numbers

While a series of cold and wet storms have jump started California's snowpack, the first snow survey of the year brought below average precipitation.
Sierra Nevada Mountains
Posted at 12:27 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 15:27:19-05

SACREMENTO, Calif. — While a series of cold and wet storms have jump started California's snowpack, the first snow survey of the year brought below average precipitation.

Thursday's snow survey at Phillips Station recorded 33.5 inches of snow depth with a snow water equivalent to 11 inches. Department of Water Resources officials said that's about 97% of average for this location.

"We must remember how variable California’s climate is," said DWR Director Karla Nemeth, "and what a profound impact climate change has on our snowpack.”

About 30 percent of California's water needs are provided from the snow that melts in the spring and early summer.

Electronic readings from 130 stations scattered throughout the state show the snow water equivalent records statewide are at 9.3 inches, about 90% of the average for this time of year.

“It’s still too early to predict what the remainder of the year will bring in terms of snowpack,” said Sean DeGuzman, chief of DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Section.

The greater the snowpack results the larger amount of water that water runoff in California reservoirs.

California traditionally receives about 75 percent of its annual precipitation during December, January and February, with the bulk of this precipitation coming from atmospheric rivers.