Officials: Epic California snowpack among biggest on record

Apr 3, 2023, 2:43 PM

In this image provided by Mammoth Mountain, the ski resort is covered with snow in Mammoth Lakes, C...

In this image provided by Mammoth Mountain, the ski resort is covered with snow in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., on March 16, 2023. The Mammoth Mountain ski resort in the Eastern Sierra said this has been its snowiest season on record, with 695 inches at the main lodge and 870 inches on the summit of the 11,053-foot peak, as of Tuesday, March 28, 2023. (Peter Morning/Mammoth Mountain via AP)

(Peter Morning/Mammoth Mountain via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — This year’s epic snowpack in California’s Sierra Nevada could top records, state officials said Monday, and significant flooding is expected when it melts and flows down from the mountains.

Just months after the state was dangerously deep in drought, its reservoirs are filling, with the snowpack yet to melt.

The water content of the statewide snowpack as reported by a network of automated sensors on Monday was 237% of average to date, said Sean de Guzman, water supply forecasting unit manager for the California Department of Water Resources.

That is greater than any previous April reading since the sensor network was deployed in the mid-1980s, de Guzman said. Manual measurements on “snow courses” date back to 1910 and only the years 1952, 1969 and 1983 showed a statewide result greater than 200% of average in April.

The record 1952 measurement was also 237% of average, but there were fewer snow courses measured then and the addition of others over the years makes it difficult to compare across decades results with precision, according to de Guzman.

Manual measurements continue to the present day, but weather and other dangers, including the threat of avalanches, have prevented access to some locations.

De Guzman said the state is waiting for more survey results to come in from partners including the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and utility companies.

“But as of right now it’s looking like this year’s statewide snowpack will probably, most likely be, either the first or second biggest snowpack on record,” said de Guzman, who conducted a manual measurement on snow course at Phillips Station near Lake Tahoe.

California was atmospheric rivers began in December.

While causing widespread damage, the storms also built the extraordinary Sierra snowpack, which supplies about a third of California’s water. Reservoir storage statewide is now 107% of average.

“The real challenge as we move into spring and summer though is flooding — significant flooding — particularly in the Tulare Lake Basin,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the Department of Water Resources.

The basin once held Tulare Lake, a vast body of water in the Central Valley below the western slope of the Sierra. Settlers began draining it or diverting its water sources in the 19th century, converting it to farmland. The lake has already begun to reemerge due to this year’s runoff.

Snowmelt runoff projections will be released next week, but de Guzman predicts records will be broken. That will include “an absurdly high 422% of average” for the Kern River watershed, which drains into the southern end of the Central Valley, he said.

National News

FILE - Travelers use the kiosk by the ticketing gate as they prepare for travel from Love Field air...

Associated Press

Lawmakers propose to weaken Obama rule requiring airlines to advertise full airfare price

Lawmakers are considering rolling back an Obama-era rule that requires airlines to show the total price of a ticket upfront in advertising, while also tweaking training requirements for airline pilots and making other changes in a massive bill covering the Federal Aviation Administration. On Friday, Republicans and Democrats on the House Transportation Committee released a […]

14 hours ago

In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, diving explorer and medical researcher Dr. ...

Associated Press

Florida’s ‘Dr. Deep’ resurfaces after a record 100 days living underwater

KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) — A university professor who spent 100 days living underwater at a Florida Keys lodge for scuba divers resurfaced Friday and raised his face to the sun for the first time since March 1. Dr. Joseph Dituri set a new record for the longest time living underwater without depressurization during his […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

Kansas governor picks high-ranking DEA official to take over embattled highway patrol

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas governor chose a high-ranking U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official Friday to head the state highway patrol, replacing a retiring superintendent who is facing federal lawsuits over the agency’s policing and allegations that he sexually harassed female employees. Gov. Laura Kelly’s appointment of Erik Smith came on retiring Superintendent and […]

14 hours ago

A charging station with Combined Charging System (CCS) plugs is seen in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Ju...

Associated Press

With GM and Ford embracing Tesla’s EV charging technology, here’s what it means for consumers

DETROIT (AP) — Starting next year, owners of electric vehicles made by General Motors and Ford will be able to charge their EVs at many of Tesla’s charging stations, the largest such network in the country. As part of their move, both Detroit-area automakers have decided to adopt Tesla’s EV charging connector, the plug that […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

Indiana ACLU challenges provision barring instruction to young students about ‘human sexuality’

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A new Indiana law’s provision barring teachers from providing instruction on “human sexuality” to students from pre-K through the third grade is unconstitutional and so vaguely written that teachers wouldn’t know whether they are complying with it, a federal lawsuit filed Friday argues. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana’s lawsuit targets […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

Alzheimer’s drug gets FDA panel’s backing, setting the stage for broader use

WASHINGTON (AP) — Health advisers on Friday unanimously backed the full approval of a closely watched Alzheimer’s drug, a key step toward opening insurance coverage to U.S. seniors with early stages of the brain-robbing disease. The drug, Leqembi, received conditional approva l from the Food and Drug Administration in January based on early results suggesting […]

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Officials: Epic California snowpack among biggest on record