latest news Snowpack in the Southern Sierra reaches an all-time high
After years of extreme drought and dismal snow, California had a remarkably wet winter and is now heading for record snowfall.
On Friday, the snowpack in the southern Sierra was 286% of normal – the highest figure on record, easily eclipsing the region’s benchmark of 263% set in 1969.
In a tweetthe UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab said this year recently surpassed 1982-83 as the second snowiest on record since measurements began in 1946.
“We will get closer over the next week” to the top spot on the list, the lab said.
In the central Sierra, snowfall was 230% of normal, above the record level of 1983. In the northern Sierra, the figure was 182%, trailing the 1983 level.
Statewide snowpack is near record highs: 228% of normal for that date. The level during the annual snow survey on April 1 in 1983 was 227%.
The 1952 April 1 survey – with levels at 237% of the average – still takes the cake, although the process included fewer survey measures, making it difficult to compare with today’s figures , said Sean DeGuzman of the California Department of Water Resources.
This means that statewide snowpack measurements are currently “higher than any other reading since the Snow Sensor Network was established in the mid-1980s.”
Despite the comparison issues, “this year will definitely be among the three or four best snow years since the 1950s,” DeGuzman said.
And more snow is likely on the way. The Sacramento office of the National Weather Service said on Twitter that “heavy snowfall is expected Monday afternoon through Wednesday, the heaviest Tuesday”.
With flooding already a problem in much of the state, record snowmelt is now a real concern.
“There’s more water in the Sierra than these facilities can handle,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said of the state’s reservoirs. The agency will take steps to “minimize and mitigate flood damage” during what is expected to be a “very long-lasting snowmelt”.
Reflecting on a wild winter in California, she said the state is “unique in the western United States” in its ability to “go from very, very wet to very, very dry and back to very, very humid”.