CALIF. (KERO) — The Department of Water Resources did the first snow survey of the season at Phillips Station. The early winter storms this month helped relieve the drought problem in California, but it has not stopped it.
The survey recorded 78.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 20 inches. The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack.
“We could not have asked for a better December in terms of Sierra snow and rain,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “But Californians need to be aware that even these big storms may not refill our major reservoirs during the next few months. We need more storms and average temperatures this winter and spring, and we can’t be sure it’s coming. So, it’s important that we continue to do our part to keep conserving – we will need that water this summer.”
DWR warns California that just because they had a good year for snow that doesn’t erase the last few winters where high temperatures, dry soil, and evaporation were a huge problem.
“California continues to experience evidence of climate change with bigger swings between wet and dry years and even extreme variability within a season. A wet start to the year doesn’t mean this year will end up above average once it’s all said and done,” said Sean de Guzman, Manager of DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit.
California typically gets the most water during December. To make up for the past dry winters, California would have to that momentum push into January and February.
Due to these climate-induced changes, DWR is investing in partnerships and implementing emerging and proven technologies to improve forecasts of precipitation, seasonal snowpack, and runoff to support more efficient water management now and to help estimate the impacts of climate change on future flood and drought conditions.
Forecast improvements and monitoring enhancements increase the reliability of data used to inform water managers about flood risks, allowing opportunities to create more storage in reservoirs ahead of big storms while also ensuring water supply reliability in periods of dry or drought conditions.