As the new year begins, the California Sierra is approaching the second-heaviest snowfall seen this time of year in the last 20 years, and more snow is expected to hit the mountains in the coming days.
But here’s why it’s too early to declare the end of the drought. Last year we started his 2022 with a similar boon, but then the snow season was significantly below average.
“It’s getting hotter…but at the same time, it’s really early,” said Sean de Guzman, manager of monthly snowpacks for the California Department of Water Resources.
On Tuesday, state water officials plan to walk through the snow at Echo Summit, south of Lake Tahoe, for the first snow cover survey of the winter. Day. This is critical in the drought-hit Golden State, where officials use the readings to manage California’s water supply, which relies heavily on snowmelt.
on Saturday, The statewide average was a whopping 162% Compared to the historical average for this period, it is slightly above last year’s figure. But he’s seven times in the past 20 years that California has started the New Year with above-average snowfall, and he’s the only one to finish the April snow season with above-average snowfall, according to an analysis by the Bay Area News Group. Only in 2005 and 2011.
Several feet of snow are expected by early next week, and yet another storm system rolls in from the Pacific, bringing cooler temperatures and more rain to the Bay Area on Monday night.
“It’s too early to tell whether these storms will affect drought,” said Andrew Schwartz, chief scientist at the Central Sierra Snow Research Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, near the Donner Summit. “We were in the exact same spot last year.
Last year, Sierra snow cover plummeted from 160% of normal at the end of 2021 to 37% of normal by the end of the season. The last time California had an above-average snow season was in 2019, at 161% of its average. Last year it was just 73% above normal.
There is no reliable way to predict what will happen in the next four months.When the faucet stops again, many state reservoir It will remain mostly empty. As of Friday, Shasta and Oroville, two of California’s largest reservoirs, were only a third of their capacity. And while the snow cover is substantial for this time of year, by April 1st (the end of the typical California snow season), it’s only half what is considered normal.
Jay Rand, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Davis, says several years of drought could leave reservoirs in the red and take years to replenish.
“We’re fine with just one year of drought,” says Lund. “[But] All groundwater drawn from the last drought has not yet been replenished. ”
The long-term outlook is dire, regardless of what happens this season. Drought conditions are expected to worsen in the coming decades as more carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere from fossil fuel use.one study From 2000 to 2021 the driest 22 years in the western United States for at least the last 1,200 years. The study also found that about 19% of drought conditions in the region are attributable to human-induced climate change.
Guzman also said climate change will make weather patterns more erratic. So while the current snowfall is a welcome surprise, it’s hard to predict if we’re on our way out of the drought.
“A lot of the historical relationships we relied on in the past don’t necessarily apply today,” says Guzman. “You have to be careful in the future.”
Weather forecasts can change daily, but National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Canepa has a high degree of confidence that snow conditions will continue into early next week. Canepa warns that drivers heading to Tahoe from the Bay Area should expect icy conditions.
A series of winter storms isn’t just snow cover. The snowplow business is also doing well. A customer at Elements Mountain Company in Truckee calls her service her specialist, Amanda Kriston.
“A lot of people looking to rent an Airbnb call and say, ‘I’m stuck, I can’t get out of the driveway.’ They’re not ready to come get a shovel.”
https://www.dailynews.com/2023/01/01/as-another-another-storm-settles-over-california-snowpack-reaches-3rd-highest-point-in-time-accumulation-in-2-decades/ California snowfall is nearly a decade high. What does drought mean? – Daily news