Late January Storms bring needed precipitation but snowpack remains below average

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- The Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the second manual snow survey of 2020 at Phillips Station on Feb. 11.

The manual survey recorded 40.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 14.5 inches, which is 79% of average for this location.

New satellite imagery is out from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather Service on the Sierra snowpack and it showed that the 2020 season isn't as good as 2019, but better than 2018. In fact, the 2020's snowpack has gotten consistently worse over time.

It was at 90% of average in early January, then fell to 72% at the end of January and is now at 64%.

"After a good start in December, January saw dry conditions that added little to the Sierra snowpack," said Department of Water Resources, (DWR) Director Karla Nemeth. "As climate change continues to impact California's snowpack, we look to actions described in the recently released California Water Resilience Portfolio to meet the challenges brought by weather variability to California's water supply

January storms helped us catch up - but today's snow survey shows that we're still below average for rain and snow.

"The foundation of California's water supply forecasting system remains the manual snow surveys," said Sean de Guzman, chief of DWR's Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Section. "The data gathered from these surveys are used to create seasonal runoff forecasts and define how wet or dry a year is based on the total precipitation, including both rain and snow, and runoff."
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