The Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the first snow survey of the season Dec. 30 and the results confirm that, despite recent storms, California is still in a drought.
The survey recorded 78.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 20 inches, which is 202% of average for this location on this date. The SWE statewide is 160% of average for this date.
December is the first of the three typically wettest months of the state’s water year. A significant amount of precipitation in January and February would be required to generate enough runoff to make up for the previous two winters which were California’s fifth- and second-driest water years on record.
“We could not have asked for a better December in terms of Sierra snow and rain,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth in a news release. “But Californians need to be aware that even these big storms may not refill our major reservoirs during the next few months. We need more storms and average temperatures this winter and spring, and we can’t be sure it’s coming. So, it’s important that we continue to do our part to keep conserving – we will need that water this summer.”
As of Jan. 2, Lake Shasta, the state’s largest surface reservoir, was at 29% capacity (50% of historical average). San Luis Reservoir in Central California was at 31% of capacity (49% of historical average) and Castaic Lake in Southern California was at 45% of capacity (59% of historical average).