It’s no surprise to hear that Sierra snow depths are well below normal for this time of year. Back in early January, measurements showed the statewide snowpack was 134 percent of average. That was the result of November and December having heavier-than-normal rain and snowfall thus leaving many of the major reservoirs in California at or above normal levels.
However, recent measurements of the water content in the Sierra snowpack showed the level at only 40 percent of normal when at the same time last year, it was 190 percent of normal. Since records first started being kept in 1920, January and February of this year have proven to be the driest recorded in the Northern Sierra with only 2.3 inches of precipitation. For more in depth information on the snowpack, visit the California Department of Water Resources where you’ll find a number of very interesting charts and reports provided by the California Cooperative Snow Surveys.
The winter snowpack in the Northern Sierras is essential to the water supplies statewide because when the snow melts in spring and summer, the reservoirs are filled. Most of the key storage reservoirs are full right now so there shouldn’t be a problem with drinking water. However, farmers in the Central Valley may have reason to be concerned. They depend on a good winter with a good snowpack to be able to plant annual crops. Now they may need to conserve water for the crops that are already in the ground thus sacrificing the annual crops.
All in all, it appears that Mother Nature has indeed been fickle this year and dealt us a bad hand in the weather department.