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Dismal Snow Survey Anticipated

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Sacramento, CA — State water officials say early electronic snowpack readings are low.

The winter’s first manual snow survey is set for tomorrow. Department of Water Resources (DWR) Officials are worried that surveyors will see more bare ground than snow at the different elevation check points along the Sierra Nevada.

DWR Spokesperson Ted Thomas says, “Our electronic readings indicate that the snowpack water content is about 20% of what it should be this time of year. That’s what we are worried about, it’s not the depth of the snow, which is pretty dismal, but how much water is actually in that snow.”

The DWR is bracing for a possible third consecutive dry year in California, but stresses it is too early to tell.

“About half the time when we start out dry in the early weeks of winter we end up with a normal or better year. However, that also means half the time we continue through a dry winter. We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst,” said Thomas.

Part of that preparation was the creation in December of a Drought Management Team to prepare and reduce potential impacts of a dry year ahead. Also, Governor Jerry Brown has started an Interagency Drought Task Force which includes the DWR. Water Resource officials say the task force will streamline water transfers to areas in critical need, monitor the impact on ground water supplies in small rural communities that are already stressed by prolonged dry conditions, and take additional steps to mitigate the effects of dry weather.

The snowpack typically provides about a third of the water used in California. One of the main measurement sights is off Highway 50 in the Lake Tahoe area near Echo Summit.