VIDEO: California Snowpack Measures Up Dry

High Sierra Measurements of Potential Snowmelt Show No Drought Relief

The rain-year results for 2015 are not pretty: The snowpack statewide was 18 percent of normal as of March 10, according to the state Department of Water Resources (DWR), and the state climatologist predicts California needs 150 percent of normal rainfall by September to pull the state out of the drought. Snow provides California with much of its spring and summer water, along with water reservoirs and underground aquifers. How the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service measures high-elevation snowpack to determine its water content is shown in the video below.

Cold storms would have been needed in February and March to rebuild the snowpack throughout the state, and “the snow scarcity has serious implications for California’s drought,” the DWR states at its website. The department estimates April will provide the best barometer of how the year’s water supplies will shape up, though the current outlook indicates the snowmelt will not meet demand during late spring and summer.

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