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Low Precipitation, Warm Temperatures Produce Weak Snowpack

By Denise Valenzuela

Posted in

A report from the Dept. of California Water Resources shows that the state continues to be impacted by extreme drought.  The absence of precipitation in January, normally California’s wettest month, has combined with warmer-than-average temperatures to produce a dismally meager snowpack for a drought-stricken state. The state performs field snow surveys and the second manual snow survey of the season found a snow water equivalent of just 2.3 inches in the scant snowpack in the Seirras. This is troubling as its way below levels that it should be.

Statewide, the snow water equivalent as measured by more than 100 sensors was 4 inches, or 25 percent of the historical average. That’s down from December 30 when the first manual survey was conducted. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has measured the winter snowpack’s water content for decades. In normal years, the snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs as it melts in the spring and early summer. The greater the snowpack water content, the greater the likelihood California’s reservoirs will receive ample runoff to meet the state’s water demand in the summer and fall.

Unfortunately, today’s manual snow survey makes it likely that California’s drought will run through a fourth consecutive year. Heavy precipitation and cooler temperatures in the next three months would be required for the snowpack to build and give Californians hope for beginning to recover from drought this year.

After December storms delivered above-normal precipitation in the northern Sierra, virtually no rain has fallen there in the past month, and even less has been recorded in Central California. Just a few tenths of an inch of rain have fallen there since Christmas. The San Joaquin 5- station precipitation index is at 46 percent of normal. The state’s major water supply reservoirs reflect that meager precipitation record and reservoirs levels continue to drop.

Because CA is one of the top agricultural zones in the US its critical that we have the water resources we need.  Everyone can play a part in water conservation and synthetic turf is a great place to start.

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