Bay Area's dry winter shapes snowless Sierra 

click to enlarge Miss this? The Sierra Nevada that last year at this time was covered in white is now bare with brown grass, trees and rocks. - AP FILE PHOTO
  • AP file photo
  • Miss this? The Sierra Nevada that last year at this time was covered in white is now bare with brown grass, trees and rocks.

You don’t have to tell Bay Area skiers and snowboarders it’s been a dry winter, but just how dry has it been?

January’s snowpack, according to a report released Tuesday by the California Department of Water Resources, is the lowest it’s been in decades.

At just 19 percent, the Sierra Nevada that last year at this time was covered in white is now bare with brown grass and trees and rocks that are exposed at every turn.

Adding to the unseasonably dry conditions, the U.S. Drought Monitor lists most of Northern California as “abnormally dry.”

Comparatively, in January 2011, the snowpack was more than 200 percent of normal.

The tears this news could bring won’t do winter enthusiasts any good either, because temperatures are not ideal for freezing conditions. It’s been 50 degrees and sunny in the Sierra for most of the month, and looks to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Experts, though, expect a turnaround by April 1.

“Thanks to good reservoir storage left over from last winter’s storms, we anticipate an adequate water supply next summer,” Water Resources Department Director Mark Cowin said in a statement.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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