Apr 4, 2023 - News

One of California's biggest snowpacks ever

Stacks of snow obscure the roof of a home; a chimney, part of a dormer and a small figure of a person clearing the snow are visible.

A crew works to remove snow from the roof of a condo complex after a late March snowstorm in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The statewide snowpack is "one of the largest snowpack years on record in California," officials with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) said Monday.

The latest readings from the DWR's network of electronic sensors are the highest since the system was established.

  • Monday's manual measurement at Phillips Station — in which officials plunge an aluminum tube deep in the snow, put the snow depth at 126.5 inches, which is 221% of average. (This is typically done on the first day of each winter month but April's moved since the 1st was a Saturday.)

Why it matters: The record wet winter that brought in so much snow also means the Bay Area is no longer in a drought. But it's raised concerns about spring flooding.

What they're saying: Snowpack in the Tuolumne River watershed, which feeds San Francisco, "is within the top 5 historic years," DWR spokesperson Jason Ince emailed Axios SF.

  • But it can't be crowned the biggest ever, he says, because "it is difficult to directly compare years across the decades due to changes in the number of survey sites over time."

Of note: Seventeen atmospheric rivers have struck California since December, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography. And climate change is adding even more moisture to them, per Axios' Andrew Freedman.


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