California snowpack off to one of its best starts, but state remains in severe drought

David González Image
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
California remains in severe drought despite healthy snowpack
When it comes to snow on California mountains, 2023 is off to a good start. However, officials stressed California remains in a severe drought and people should still continue to conserve water.

When it comes to snow on California mountains, 2023 is off to a good start.

The Department of Water Resources conducted its first snow survey of the season on Tuesday at the Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

"Our snowpack is actually off to one of its best start in the past 40 years," said Sean de Guzman, manager for DWR's Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting unit.

He said the department recorded a snow depth of 55.5 inches and a snow water content of 17.5 inches.

De Guzman said that's over half of an average snowpack with three months left to build on it.

However, DWR stressed California is still in a severe drought and asks people to continue to conserve water.

"No single storm event will end the drought," de Guzman said. "We'll need consecutive storms month after month after month of above average rain, snow and runoff to help really refill our reservoirs."

DWR said they will remain cautiously optimistic because the current wet weather pattern could turn dry.

"We all know what could happen if the pattern turns dry, similar to what it did last year when we experienced the driest January through March on record," he said.

DWR director Karla Nemeth said recent storms didn't provide a significant snow bump but they hope conditions stay active as they are forecasted this week.

"We do have several storms queued up for us starting tomorrow and through the weekend," Nemeth said. "We think they will be colder than the set of storms we had over the New Year's holiday, so that's all good news for snowpack."

The department will continue to conduct snow surveys and expect the snowpack to reach its peak by April 1.