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February Storms Help California Reservoirs But Not Snowpack


The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor Thursday reports the recent Pacific storms have lessened the "extreme" category of drought in some parts of California.

But the report goes on to say that the February precipitation did nothing to help the "well below normal" snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.

"The storms were the first significant precipitation event to affect California since mid-December," the report stated. 

But those warm storms brought mostly rain to Northern California and did little to help the mountain snowpack, with snow falling mostly at higher elevations.

"Overall, the storms had little impact on the well-below-normal snowpack conditions across the Sierra Nevada and Cascades ranges," according to the report.

"In the northern half of the Sierra Nevada Range, rainfall accumulations ranged from three-to-ten inches, and the greatest accumulations occurred on the western slope between 2000 and 7000 feet in elevation. Snow levels were generally high (above 8000 feet) throughout the storms, and the cumulative effect of the snowfall received did not have a significant impact on the poor snowpack conditions across the range."

Along with California, "mountain snowpack conditions are currently below normal across the Great Basin and Southwest as well as in parts of the Intermountain West." 

The storms did benefit the larger reservoirs in California.

"On a more positive note, runoff associated with the [February storms]  provided the addition of approximately 500,000 acre feet of inflow to the four major reservoirs (Folsom, Oroville, Shasta, and Trinity) in northern California."

But the report says reservoir storage "remains below normal in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah." 

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Ed Joyce

Former All Things Considered Anchor & Reporter

Ed Joyce is a former reporter and All Things Considered news anchor at Capital Public Radio. Ed is a veteran journalist with experience in a variety of news positions across all media platforms, including radio, television, web and print.   Read Full Bio 

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