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Climate and Environment

California Has One Of The Best Snowpacks In 40 Years

People in blue snow jackets and dark stand in a snowy field with instruments
California Dept. of Water Resources conducted their first survey of the snowpack at Phillips Station today.
(Courtesy CA Dept. of Water Resources)
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California's snowpack is off to a good start, which shows promise for the water that will melt off of it and serve as a water supply resource. It's one of the best snowpacks in 40 years, but state water officials warn that could change.

They point to last year's early winter storms that dried up and created the driest January-March 2022 on record.

The state Department of Water Resources conducted its first snow survey of the season on Tuesday at Phillips Station, west of Lake Tahoe.

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Where things stand

They determined that the water content there is well above the average, coming in at 177% of normal, according to the department's Gary Lippner.

"We are in January, in the middle of our wet season, so I want to stress the importance, for all, [of] the need to be prepared for flood impacts and increase awareness of flood conditions," Lippner said.

Why it matters

The level of our snowpack helps forecast the state's water supply.

On average, the Sierra snowpack supplies 30% of California's water needs and is an important factor in determining how the DWR manages the state's water resources.

Experts caution it will take more than one good wet season to refill groundwater storage.

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