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Substantial Snowpack In Manual Survey Shows California Moving From Drought To Deluge

Maggie Macias / California Department of Water Resources

From left, Frank Gehrke, California Department of Water Resources, Chief of Snow Surveys and Nic Enstice, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Regional Science Coordinator, conduct a snow survey at Phillips Station, Calif. on March 30, 2017.

Maggie Macias / California Department of Water Resources

Results of the manual snow survey Thursday have Californians wondering when California Governor Jerry Brown will declare the drought over. 

Two years ago, Governor Brown stood on bare ground near Echo Summit during the April manual snow survey.

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In 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown stood on grass rather than snow at Echo Summit and declared the state in a drought. 

“We’re in an historic drought and that demands unprecedented action," he said. "It’s for that reason I’m issuing executive order mandating substantial water reduction across our state.”

But now, Frank Gehrke, the state’s chief snow surveyor, stands in falling snow at Echo Summit and measures nearly 8 feet of snowpack.

“That represents 183 percent of its long-term average. So clearly even though we had that hiatus of storms in March, we’ve still got a very substantial snowpack,” says Gehrke.

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Statewide snow readings show water content in the snow is 164 percent of normal for this time of year. 

“Especially for recreation it’s going to be a rather different picture than people have experienced since 2011 really,” says Gehrke.

He says skiers can expect a long season and whitewater rafters will have lots of cold and fast-moving water.