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Freshly fallen snow from late-arriving storms brightened the scenery but did not end California’s drought. The winter’s second snow survey today found far too little water in the still scant snowpack.
“This winter remains dry, making it very unlikely our record drought will be broken this year,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “Now more than ever, we all need to save every drop we can in our homes and places of work.”
Manual and electronic readings today record the snowpack’s statewide water content at only 12 percent of average for this time of year. That is a mere 7 percent of the average April 1 measurement when the snowpack normally is at its peak before melting into streams and reservoirs to provide about a third of the water used by California’s cities and farms.
Prior to today, the lowest snowpack water content readings for this time of year were 21 percent of average for the date in 1991 and 1963, 22 percent in 1976, 25 percent in 1977 and 35 percent in 2012, the first year of the drought now pushing its way into a third consecutive year. These statewide records go back to 1960.
Today’s electronic readings indicate that water content in the northern mountains is 6 percent of normal for the date and 4 percent of the April 1 average. Electronic readings in the central Sierra show 15 percent of normal for the date and 9 percent of the April 1 average. The numbers for the southern Sierra are 14 percent of average for the date and 8 percent of the April 1 average.
DWR and cooperating agencies conduct manual surveys on or about the first of the month from January to May. The manual measurements supplement and check the accuracy of real-time electronic readings.