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Sierra Nevada snowpack grows even deeper

California Department of Water Resources engineers in the Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit take measurements in January 2023. | California Department of Water Resources via Bay City News

The state’s continuous stormy weather is only making California’s large snowpack even larger, state water officials confirmed during their third snow survey of the year.  

Combined with the series of winter storms that hit California in December and January, recent storms have given the state an above-average snowpack. 

Results from the state’s latest manual snow survey, conducted on Friday, recorded 116.5 inches of snow depth at the Sierra Nevada’s Phillips Station, which is 177% of average for the area at this time of year.  

READ MORE: Half of California Drought-Free After 3 Months of Rain, Snow

The California Department of Water Resources’ electronic snow sensors throughout the state detected that the snowpack’s snow water equivalent is 44.7 inches, which is 190% of average for Friday.  

The California Department of Water Resources conducts a snow survey in January 2023. | Jonathan Wong/California Department of Water Resources via Bay City News

“Thankfully the recent storms combined with the January atmospheric rivers have contributed to an above-average snowpack that will help fill some of the state’s reservoirs and maximize groundwater recharge efforts. But the benefits vary by region, and the Northern Sierra, home to the state’s largest reservoir Lake Shasta, is lagging behind the rest of the Sierra,” Department of Water Resources (DWR) director Karla Nemeth said. “It will also take more than one good year to begin recovery of the state’s groundwater basins.” 

READ MORE: Stunning Before and After Photos of California Reservoirs Show Impact of Winter Storms

Water officials said that with one month left in the state’s wet season, they are closely monitoring spring runoff scenarios to maximize state water supply and prevent flooding. 

“The recent storms over the past week broke a monthlong dry spell in a dramatic way,” said DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit Manager Sean de Guzman. “We are hopeful that we will see more cold storms to add to our snowpack for the next month and help set up a long, slow melt period into spring.” 

DWR’s next snow survey is tentatively scheduled for April 3.