Water content throughout the Sierra Nevada is about a quarter of where it should be this time of year.
The latest electronic snowpack readings from the Department of Water Resources shows a dry start to the winter season. The first manual reading at Phillips Station, east of Sacramento, came in at just three percent of normal.
DWR Director Grant Davis says the state's reservoirs are in good shape from last year's record-breaking rain and snow totals.
He says the challenge is planning for these wide swings from wet to dry years.
"We live in the most variable weather climate in the country and that variability is what we have to manage to increasingly. So, you could have five years of a record drought - which we came out of - followed by the wettest year on record, which was last year in Northern California. I believe it was the second wettest year on record in Southern California," Davis said.
Davis says there is still a chance that California will get hit with a series of storms known as an atmospheric river.
Frank Gehrke, head of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program says it's a disappointing start to the year, but he too says there's plenty of time left in the season to reverse the dry trend.
The forecast for the next week calls for some snow and light rain throughout much of California.