“Bigger Bark Than Bite”
Sonora, CA – As many cheered the recent winter weather that has blown through the region, State Department of Water Resources, the agency that monitors California’s snowpack, reports the storms need to pack a bigger punch.
DWR Snow Survey Section Chief David Rizzardo notes that statewide electronic monitoring shows 51% of average, only half of what we should have had by now with the Sierra Nevada at just 40% of average. He remarks, “These kinds of storms are fun and great but there not really the solution were looking for now.”
Coming off four years of drought and the driest year on record has skewed the public’s perception, according to Rizzardo, who suggests, “We are not used to this. The benchmark has been zero and dry…so we all lowered our expectations but it’s important to realize it is just December and we are entering our wettest months. Are we behind the pace, yes, but there is still the optimism that things can turn around for us.”
Then there is the issue of El Nino, which Rizzardo calls “a mixed bag” since it may bring in more moisture but with warmer temperatures that can melt the snowpack. He explains, “What we’re really hoping for with this El Nino, because it is a very strong one, is that it will bring a significant amount of those storms up from the equator. If that can be mixed in with just enough influence from the Artic to get the snow storms you’d have the perfect scenario.”
The first manual snowpack reading will be held the first week in January.