Survey Shows Modest Improvement to Snowpack

The second snow survey of the season was conducted by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) yesterday at the Phillips Station snow course. The manual survey showed a modest improvement to the state’s “frozen reservoir”.

DWR staff recorded a snow depth of 63 inches and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 17 inches, which is 93 percent of the February 1 average for this location.

“The recent blast of winter weather was a welcome sight, but it was not enough to offset this winter’s dry start,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “While there is still a chance we will see additional storms in the coming weeks, the Department and other state agencies are preparing for the potential for a second consecutive year of dry conditions.”

The Phillips Station is one of more than 260 snow courses across the Sierra Nevada that DWR manually or electronically measures. Data collected from the monthly snow surveys help determine the amount of water that will melt and run off to state reservoirs during warmer months.

Measurements from DWR’s electronic snow survey stations indicate that statewide the snowpack’s SWE is 12.5 inches or 70% of the February 3 average which is an 18% increase over last month’s readings.

On average, the Sierra snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs and the snowpack is an important factor in determining how DWR manages the state’s water resources.

DWR will conduct monthly surveys through April or May if necessary to monitor the State’s water needs.

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