Cali Drought Buster: 61 feet of Sierra snow!

And you think we’ve had a snowy winter in Minnesota?

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AP photo shows the Soda Springs store and post office covered in snow. Here’s the story from AP.

The drought is over in California.

That’s the word from California Governor Jerry Brown after the latest round of winter storms boosted season snowfall totals to 61 feet in the high Sierra. The region’s snowmelt feeds California’s reservoir system, which is expected to approach 100% capacity this spring & summer.

California transportation officials say more than 61 feet of snow has fallen in the Sierra high country so far, second to the 1950-51 season, when a total of 65 feet fell.

The latest Sierra snow survey shows snowpack is running at 165% of normal in California’s mountain ranges.

Here are some excerpts form the report from the California Department of Water Resources.

SACRAMENTO — Department of Water Resources (DWR) hydrologists today

announced that water content in California’s mountain snowpack is 165 percent of

the April 1 full season average.

“Recent storms have significantly contributed to the above-average snowpack,

helping to stabilize California’s water supply for the year,” said DWR Director Mark


After the snowpack readings were in, Governor Jerry Brown officially rescinded

former Governor Schwarzenegger’s emergency proclamations and executive order

issued in 2008 and 2009 relating to water shortage associated with the drought.

Snowpack water content is measured both manually on or near the first of the

month from January to May, and in real-time by electronic sensors.

Today’s manual survey and electronic readings are the most important of the year,

since April 1 is when the state’s snowpack normally is at its peak before it melts into

streams and reservoirs in the spring and summer months.

March precipitation has helped register 2011 among the top years in snowpack

water content, despite dry weather conditions in January and early February.

The mountain snowpack provides approximately one-third of the water for

California’s households, industry and farms as it melts into streams and reservoirs.

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Electronic readings indicate that water content in the northern mountains is 174

percent of the April 1 seasonal average.

Electronic readings for the central Sierra show 163 percent of the April 1 average.

The number for the southern Sierra is 158 percent. The statewide number is 165


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This is great news for the California water supply.

Certainly puts our little Thursday rain/snow mix (and our winter season snowfall) in perspective!


  • Mike

    Hi Paul:

    Thanks for your daily blogs. All great stuff for the uninformed, for sure. I was wondering, however, if you might consider blogging FIRST on the weather coming in for the day(s) ahead BEFORE providing your content on the floods, locations, levels, pictures, stats, projections, etc, etc.? I realize the flooding situation in the state has more bling to it, but really, most state residents are more impacted by what their next day or two are going to be like weather-wise than what the level of Harriet Island flooding is. It’s been somewhat annoying to have to scroll WAY down (sometimes, I never even find it) to find your actual weather forcast commentary that the majority of your blog viewers depend on even though weather and flooding are in many ways so related.

    Have a great day!

  • scott

    When you do just the weather your pretty good,giving all the info thats out there,but stick to the weather,who cares about california(at least your not like Paul Douglas when most times more then half his blog is about electronics or crap half way around the world)but at least he puts the weather first and I agree with the top comment put the WEATHER first,so talking about the weather the NWS has gone with all-snow solution for sunday/monday storm,what do you say agree or disagree?

  • Chris

    You can get the daily weather forecast anywhere. The other weather related stuff is what is cool about this blog.

  • Andy

    Paul, I think you’re speaking to at least 4 audiences: 1) daily weather forecast(including urgent, dangerous events like tornadoes); 2) longer-term forecasting (including floods); and 3) educational topics of meteorologic interest (snow in CA); 4) topics of climatologic interest (this overlaps with Mark Seeley). I am not a global-warmist, and I find all these areas interesting and educational. Learning is fun, isn’t it.

  • Tyler

    I wonder if this affects Lake Mead at Hoover Dam – how was the snowfall in Arizona & Nevada? Last I checked, the lake was at record lows.

  • Paul Huttner

    Thanks for the comments Ya’ll:

    I often try to “lead” my blog with the most compelling, newsworthy content up top. Sometimes that’s the current or near term forecast, sometimes on a quiet weather day in Minnesota… that may be 61 feet of snow in California.

    Since I usually post twice (or more) a day during the week, I may cover the forecast in the morning post and something different in the PM if the forecast hasn’t changed. I would hope folks would scroll down to the morning post to find forecast info, but maybe that’s asking too much.

    I can certainly at least include a link for quick forecast info, and my analysis of what’s coming our way if the forecast hasn’t changed.

    I think you’re right about the Updraft audience. It’s weather consumers (and geeks like me!) looking for a variety of info.

    Thanks for the reminders. It’s hard to be everything to everybody all the time, but I’ll try and do a better job!


  • Jeanne

    I read this blog for the variety and depth of weather information you cover. Yes, I could find some of it by digging around elsewhere but you uncover some really interesting nuggets of information that might take me a while to find. Today, the Cal. snow story caught my eye. And I appreciate your deeper-than-usual explanations of the shortcomings of models, etc. Count me as a happy reader.