December storms provide good start to Sierra snowpack

The Department of Water Resources conducted the first manual snow survey of 2020 Thursday and results show a good start to this year’s snowpack.

The manual survey taken at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada recorded 33.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 11 inches, which is 97% of average for this location.

The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack, which provides a more accurate forecast of spring runoff.

On average, the snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs as it melts in the spring and early summer. The melted runoff provides most of Kings County’s summer water supply.

“While the series of cold weather storms in November and December has provided a good start to the 2020 snowpack, precipitation in Northern California is still below average for this time of year,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “We must remember how variable California’s climate is and what a profound impact climate change has on our snowpack.”

California traditionally receives about 75% of its annual precipitation during December, January and February, with the bulk of this precipitation coming from atmospheric rivers.

Julissa Zavala, The Hanford Sentinel, Calif.

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