The recent storms of the past few weeks have added to the snowpack while delaying the onset of spring.
A snow survey on Monday showed that while snow levels remain below average, the recent storms have almost doubled the amount of snow recorded last month from 17.7 to 31 inches. In addition the water content of the snow has almost tripled from last month’s 3.9 percent to this month’s 11 percent.
Conducted at Phillips Station near Echo Summit, Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey, sampled the snow depth and water content at six different locations. Gehrke said that the water content is still only 39 percent of average.
“There has been quite a bit of improvement in the northern Sierra,” he said. “The large water projects depend on that northern Sierra runoff. But snowfall in the southern Sierra is still not as good. Conditions are similar to 2007, except that there is more snowpack and our reservoir storage is still good. The major reservoirs are at 105 percent of capacity.”
According to telemetry readings by the Department of Water Resources, water content in the northern Sierras is at 71 percent of normal. In the Central Sierra it is 49 percent and in the south it is 39 percent. Sierrawide, water content is 52 percent of normal.
Gehrke said they anticipate another storm this week but he expects that the snow and rain will start tapering off by the end of the month.
“This year is a lot like 2007,” he said. “We have the same pattern of being really dry followed by a wet March. The trend seems to be that winters start later and continue into spring. Historically we expect the rain to drop off in April and for more spring like conditions to arrive.”
Gehrke said the next snow survey will be on May 1.
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