Sierra Nevada snow season gets off to best start of decade, but experts take note

State water officials say the Sierra Nevada is experiencing the start of its snowiest winter in a decade, thanks to a handful of storms that threw several feet of snow. The November rains saturated the soil and prepared it for future runoff.

Statewide snow cover is about 163% of the average for this time of year, said Sean de Guzman, who manages the annual snow cover for the California Department of Water Resources.

The study projects the state’s annual water supply based on the amount of water contained in the Sierra Nevada snowpack. The first snow survey for the 2023 snow cover is tentatively scheduled to be recorded on January 3.

But de Guzman cites the numbers with caution.

By this time last year, the snow cover had reached 150% of normal. It’s the beginning of a season full of hope. That was until California hit her driest January, February and March on record.

“This year is off to a great start,” said de Guzman. “But I warned everyone in advance that it was really, really early in the snow season around that time,” he added.

According to De Guzman, the 2022 snow season got off to an eerily similar start to the 2013 Water Year, which was the driest on record despite an impressive amount of snowfall before the New Year. It is said that it is old.

A White Christmas alone is not enough to sustain one-third of California’s annual water supply. The snowpack should be built up until April to ensure that there is enough mountain snow to slowly trickle into the state’s reservoirs. dry month.

KRON On is now live

As California faces more challenges related to climate change, state agencies are prepared to deal with the most unpredictable conditions, alternating between record dry seasons and record wet seasons. I’m here.

De Guzman said it’s getting harder to plan how much water the state will have next year.

“Perhaps 10 years ago in 2013, I had no idea it was possible, especially since December, January and February are the wettest months of the year. Who can predict that there will be no rain or snow on a regular basis?” De Guzman said. “We are in the realm of possibility now.”

And one season of snowfall may not be enough to make up for the estimated 2-3 years of rain and snowfall missing in California in the last decade.

De Guzman said the only way forward is to build a resilient water infrastructure that saves every drop. His own team is trying to modernize how the DWR measures snow in the multiple surveys it collects each year at Phillips Station, southwest of Lake Tahoe.

Instead of using snow tubes and sensors in the wilderness, we may use airborne remote sensing in the future. This allows his plane-mounted scanning device to accurately capture water content within his 3-by-3-meter grid, de Guzman said.

“It’s really exciting to see where we are and where we’re going,” he said. He added that he was confident it would be much higher.

“Winter is still a long way off, and I hope that what happened last year and 2013 doesn’t happen again.

Copyright © 2022 Bay City News, Inc. All rights reserved. Sierra Nevada snow season gets off to best start of decade, but experts take note

Related Articles

Back to top button