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Calif. snow survey finds 241% of average

The cool, damp spring is keeping snow in the mountains so far.

Farm Press Staff

May 5, 2023

1 Min Read
Manual snow survey
From left, the California Department of Water Resources' Jordan Thoennes, Anthony Burdock and Sean de Guzman conduct a manual snow survey at Phillips Station, about 90 miles east of Sacramento, on May 1.Calif. Dept. of Water Resources

California’s Department of Water Resources conducted the season’s fifth manual snow survey this week and found 241% of average snow for the start of May, recording 59 inches of depth and a snow water equivalent of 30 inches in a meadow near Lake Tahoe.

The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water still contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply run-off forecast. DWR’s electronic readings from 130 snow sensors statewide show a snow water equivalent is 49.2 inches, or 254% of average for this date.

Despite a brief warm spell in late April, snow melted at a slower pace than average over the month as below-average temperatures and cloud cover prevailed. An average of 12 inches of the snowpack’s snow water equivalent has melted in the past month and it now contains an average of 49.2 inches, according to the agency.

Snow surveys like the one at Phillips Station, about 90 miles east of Sacramento, are critical to planning for impacts of the coming snowmelt runoff on communities. The DWR’s forecasts allow reservoir operators to plan for anticipated inflows and water managers downstream of reservoirs to plan and prepare for flood risks.

Source: California Department of Water Resources

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