Before this weekend’s storms the Sierra snowpack was at 10% of normal. After that strong series of storms, the Sierra snowpack is around 25-30% of normal to date. That is a very concerning number this late in the season. Experts are now saying that the Sierra Nevada is experiencing a drought.
“Before the series of storms in the past week, all of the basins were below 10% of the season-to-date normals. As of early this morning, the snowpack has increased to around 25-30% of normal, which includes partial totals from the Sunday night-Monday storm.” – noaa.gov (monday)
Squaw Valley ski resort has only gotten 86 inches of snow all season (compared to 293” at this time last year) at 8,200 feet and weather professionals are now using the words Severe Drought and Sierra Nevada together.
“A surprising lack of early winter precipitation (not expected during a La Niña) in the Northwest resulted in the introduction of severe drought (D2) to the Sierra Nevadas” – noaa.gov
The Sierra Nevada snowpack is key to California’s survival. The Sierra Nevada is our reservoir. Mountain snows accumulate all winter then slowly run off in the spring, summer, and fall filling rivers, streams, reservoirs, lakes, canals, and water cups. When the Sierras don’t have snow, we don’t have water.
The forecast is the really bad news:
“Dry conditions are expected to return for the remainder of the month, so these snowpack values will level off, then slowly decrease.” – noaa.gov
Current 7 day forecasts show high pressure, sunny skies, and high temps in the high 40s and 50s.
It’s bad enough that the skiing and snowboarding hasn’t been good due to the snow. But now, Californians are looking at their lack of snowpack in a whole other light: drought or even severe drought.
It’s kinda scary to think that only last March did California Governor Jerry Brown declare that California was out of its previous “drought emergency” declared by the Governator that lasted from 2008-2011.