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First Snowpack Survey Reveals Dry Start

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Sonora, CA– In the first manual snow survey of 2024 conducted at Phillips Station south of Lake Tahoe on Tuesday, the Department of Water Resources reported a notably dry start to the water year in the mountains. According to the survey, the snow depth measured 7.5 inches, with a snow water equivalent of 3 inches, marking a 30% decrease compared to the average for the location at this time. Snow survey manager Sean de Guzman pointed out that this data aligns with the statewide snowpack’s snow water equivalent of 2.5 inches, representing 25% of the average to date.

While historically California’s snowiest weeks are yet to come, water managers express cautious optimism for improved patterns, buoyed by a surplus of water in major reservoirs from the previous winter. The state’s reservoirs are currently above the average for this time of year, with the statewide reservoir system at about 116% of the average. Notably, Lake Shasta’s water level is at its highest point in early January 2020.

The state’s reservoirs are currently above the average for this time of year, with the statewide reservoir system at about 116% of the average. Notably, Lake Shasta’s water level is at its highest point in early January 2020. Last year’s snowpack at Phillips Station was 177% of the average at this time which was one of the best starts in 40 years. California’s snowpack for that season ultimately became one of the largest on record.

The next survey is scheduled for February 1st.

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