April 20, 2018
Sierra snowpack survey comes up short
SACRAMENTO - (INT) - The water content of the Sierra snowpack is 70 percent of the early January average, according to the first survey of winter.

January and February are two of California’s three historically wettest months, but Tuesday's measurements don’t shed much light on how wet the wet season ultimately will be.

Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, said the initial numbers “seem a little gloomy.” Gehrke said forecasters predict a series of wet cold storms stretching into next week. “That’s going to bolster the snowpack,” he said. “I can see us being potentially at average once that series of storms moves throug and that could be a very encouraging start to winter."

State Climatologist Mike Anderson said about half of California’s annual rainfall occurs in December, January and February and about two-thirds of the annual total arrives during December through March. Total precipitation so far this water year, which began October 1, has been above average, but warm temperatures during stormy events have tended to cause precipitation to fall as rain rather than snow in many mountain locations.

“We still have three historically wet months ahead of us,” Anderson said, “so there’s still time for the snowpack to build and improve before it begins to melt, which usually starts happening around April 1.”
Story Date: January 18, 2017
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