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Water In California’s Snowpack Nearly Double Its Long-Term Average

California Department Of Water Resources

Right, Frank Gehrke chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program and Wes McCandless a contract analyst, conduct the final snow survey for the 2017 snow season at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California.

California Department Of Water Resources

The water content of the Sierra snowpack is nearly double the average of long-time measurements. The state's lead water agency conducted the last survey of the wet season Monday. It's now a matter of managing run-off. 

Frank Gehrke with the Department of Water Resources took the measurement near Lake Tahoe.

Now, for the remainder of the melt season, "There's significant effort looking at how to manage the in-flow to the big reservoirs on the Tuolumne down to the Kings," says Gehrke. "Because those reservoirs are basically at the maximum they can store for this time of year and yet we have a huge snowpack above that."

Gehrke says the airborne snow observatory, a joint project with NASA, will be a key tool in assessing how much water is stored in the snowpack at higher elevations.

He says it's the most accurate and comprehensive measurement of the Sierra snowpack.

And it didn't exist in 2011 - the last time California saw similar conditions.

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