California Snowpack Continues to Rise: Officials

California Snowpack Continues to Rise: Officials
In this photo provided by the California Department of Water Resources, forecasting chief Sean de Guzman, second from right, and engineers work the measurement phase of the first media snow survey of the season at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2023. (Kenneth James/California Department of Water Resources via AP)
Rudy Blalock

Snowpack levels in California continue to increase, after reaching their highest level in 40 years, in the wake of weeks of storms in December and January.

But, water officials reported that with a dry forecast ahead, more is needed to escape the state’s three-year drought.

The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is measured at Phillips Station near South Lake Tahoe, was measured at 205 percent of the historical average for the year on Feb. 1, following three of the wettest weeks California has had in years, according to officials.

It additionally has risen 20 percent more than when it was measured last month.

“Our snowpack is off to an incredible start. And it’s exactly what California needs to really help break from our ongoing drought,” said Sean de Guzman, manager of snow surveys and water supply forecasting with the California Department of Water Resources.

He noted, however, that some of the state’s largest reservoirs are still lacking water.

“We’ve seen an impressive increase in reservoir storage statewide, but there are still some of these larger reservoirs that are actually still below average,” he said.

According to Guzman, since Dec. 1, there has been an increase of 9-million-acre feet in reservoir storage.

“However, for every day that it doesn’t rain or snow, we gradually return to drier conditions,” he said.

The recent measurement was also a 137 percent increase compared to an average taken last April, which is considered the peak of the annual snowpack.

But according to Karla Nemeth, director of the water resources department, the state’s traditional snow peak date, may now be in flux.

“What is happening with climate is that the timing of that peak is changing,” she said.

She said the department is hopeful for a large return of water from the snowmelt into the state’s ground basins, which hold about 10 times more than reservoirs.

“It takes a lot longer to fill our groundwater basins than it does our reservoir storage,” she said.

Nemeth added that California isn’t out of the woods yet, regarding its current drought.

She said recent storms could be followed by an excessive dry period.

“There’s a lot more that needs to play out over the course of the next several months for us to really capture our full water supply picture here in California,” she said.

Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.
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