The gold standard for figuring out how much water will be delivered to California communities, businesses, and farms is the annual April 1 snowpack measurement.
Finally, after three years of drought, things are looking up.
Thanks to a long parade of storms, the statewide snowpack has already surpassed the April 1 average. In fact, according to the state Department of Water Resources, the snowpack is 124% of the April 1 average and 248% of “normal” as of Wednesday.
Why does the April 1 measurement matter?
After that, as temperatures rise, the snowpack melts and feeds California’s extensive reservoir system. Water from reservoirs is released into river channels, canals, and pipes and carried to where it needs to go. In addition, the water in riverbeds and creeks nourishes habitat, wildlife, and fish. And, some of the snowmelt percolates into the aquifer for future use.
So, while California’s just-concluded parade of nine atmospheric rivers has been deadly (at least 20 people killed) and costly (damage in the billions), the storms have also possibly created the biggest snowpack on the planet.
California’s Sierra Nevada range 80 days ago versus today.
These mountains likely currently hold the biggest snowpack on the planet. pic.twitter.com/b5Lo0gnuod
— Colin McCarthy (@US_Stormwatch) January 18, 2023
More Snow Ahead
The forecast from the National Weather Service in Hanford calls for a 30% chance of rain in the Fresno area Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.
But the biggest precipitation impact will be felt in the Sierra, where up to 8 inches of snow is expected at some locations.
Projected precipitation for the next storm to hit Central California. While most of the district will see light rain or snow, an area from Yosemite to Huntington Lake and Mono Hot Springs may see significant new snowfall. pic.twitter.com/CmcBC2Q8Yn
— NWS Hanford (@NWSHanford) January 17, 2023