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Sierra Nevada Snowpack At 87 Percent Of Normal

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The last Sierra Nevada snowpack measurement of the 2015-16 season was 95 percent of normal at this Echo Summit location. The statewide average was 87 percent of normal on March 30, 2016.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The latest Sierra Nevada snow survey finds that the statewide snowpack is at 87 percent of normal for March 30 and 87 percent of the April 1 average.

The northern Sierra is 97 percent of normal, the central Sierra is 88 percent of normal and the southern Sierra is 72 percent of normal.


Snowpack 030316.JPG

California regulators say the measurement at Echo Summit Wednesday found the snowpack at about 95 percent of normal. They intend to use the figure when they reopen a discussion on whether to ease or end conservation mandates.

During the historic drought, now in its fifth year, Californians have been ordered to use at least 20 percent less water. To comply, many have let lawns go brown or converted to drought-tolerant landscaping.

The snowpack was aided by an El Niño storm system that dumped more water on the northern part of the state while leaving southern areas relatively dry.

George Kostyrko with the California State Water Resources Control Board says officials will consider this difference while setting new conservation targets.


The snowpack provides roughly one-third of California's water.

Reservoir storage has improved in the northern Sierra but the central and southern reservoirs are below average.

The state’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, have filled with frequent storms over the winter and in March.

033016 CA-Reservoirs

As of March 29, Lake Shasta is at 88 percent of capacity and 109 percent of its historical average. Lake Oroville is at 86 percent capacity and 113 percent of historical capacity.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought State of Emergency on January 17, 2014 and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(AP) — State drought surveyors will trudge through deep snow Wednesday to manually measure what could be close to a normal Sierra Nevada snowpack for this time of year.

A year ago, Gov. Jerry Brown stood on the same spot — then a dusty patch of ground with no snow — to announce that the dire drought required residents to cut back water use by 25 percent.

Surveyors expect to find much more snow this time thanks to the El Nino storms that have drenched Northern California.

But Doug Carlson of the state's Department of Water Resources says it won't end the record dry spell.

Still, state water board spokesman George Kostyrko said agency officials expect to soon re-open a discussion of the conservation order issued by Brown.

 droughtsnowpacksierra nevada

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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