During this past winter, FOX40 met people who moved up the mountains for the snow — and then got sick of it. Many homes were completely buried in snow and the region saw heavy downpours of rain that tested storm drains and levees.
But from a Water Resources perspective, it was “a good water year,” according to spokesman Chris Orrock.
Orrock said California had above-average precipitation, with around 30 atmospheric rivers during the 2018-2019 water year, which ends on the last day of September.
Many of those very wet storms came with cold air from the Gulf of Alaska.
“Which really impacted our snowpack. It made it very cold and very deep,” Orrock said. “So, we had snow up in the upper elevations July into August. That snow usually melts by then.”
Orrock pointed out it was the fifth best Sierra snowpack on record, sitting at 175% of average on April 1.
Snow accounts for about a third of California’s freshwater supply. The rest of it is stored as groundwater and in reservoirs, which are fed by snow.
“Reservoirs are doing real well,” Orrock told FOX40.
Folsom Lake is currently sitting at 129% of the historic average. Just to the north, Lake Oroville is at 102% and Shasta Lake is at 126%.
Visitors at Folsom Lake were impressed at how healthy the reservoir looks. Jenine Adan said she appreciates how the shoreline is still just a short walk from the parking lot.
“I just hope it continues to rain and stay full just so we can enjoy the lake longer throughout the year,” Adan said.
Just this past weekend, a cold storm brought rain and hail to the Sacramento region. There was even some Sierra snow that was still sticking to the ground at Donner Summit on Monday.
As tempting as it may be to look at all of this as a sign of things to come, the experts will say most of the rain and snow falls between December and the end of February. That means it’s just too soon to make any bold predictions about the season ahead.
“There is no way to really tell,” Orrock explained.
It was also a good season for owners of water rights in California.
“Even though we started with a 10% allocation for our state water project, we ended up with a 75% allocation,” Orrock explained. “It’s very rare that we get up that high.”