PHILLIPS STATION, Calif. (KTXL) — State snow surveyors confirmed Tuesday that there hasn’t been a lot of rain or snow in recent weeks, with signs that California is headed toward a drought year.
Snow surveyors have used the same method for decades to measure snow depth and how much water it contains verses air.
This year, the statewide snowpack is 61% of average, with only two wet months left on the calendar year.
“Without any series of storms on the horizon, it’s safe to say that we’ll end this year dry,” said Sean de Guzman, chief of state snow surveys for California Department of Water Resources.
That means there won’t be a big change in reservoir levels, even when the snow melts, he explained.
“Lake Shasta, which is California’s largest surface water reservoir, is currently at 50% of its capacity,” de Guzman said.
That is worse than 2020.
The waterflows on the South Fork of the American River explain a lot. Water flows from the high Sierra down Folsom Reservoir, where the water level is so low in spots that people can walk across the river.
It’s no wonder Folsom Reservoir, part of the federal water system, is just one-third full.
Historical comparisons are equally dire. This year, it’s looking a lot like 2014 and 2015, the driest years of a historic drought.
“Those two years were actually California’s warmest two years on record, dating back over 120 years,” de Guzman said.
There is some consolation in that Californians are doing a good job of conserving water. But residents will have to do more of that since reservoir water deliveries to water districts in urban and farm areas have already been curtailed drastically.
The last snow measurement is in April. After that, there are typically no big storm events that can change the snowpack numbers significantly.