Storms have come to California early this winter, but a survey of the Sierra snowpack on Thursday (Jan. 3) shows it is only at 67 percent of average statewide for this time of year, according to the state's Department of Water Resources.
The snowpack survey was the first of 2019 in California and included a manual survey at Phillips Station just off of U.S. Highway 50 near Sierra-at-Tahoe.
The manual survey showed a snow depth of 25.5 inches and a snow water equivalent of 9 inches, roughly 80 percent of average for the location and above the 67 percent statewide number taken from electronic readings around the Sierra Nevada, state water officials said.
The department conducts the surveys at Phillips Station five times annually -- in early January, February, March, April and May. The snowpack is measured because it supplies about 30 percent of the state's water needs as it melts in the spring and summer.
Department director Karla Nemeth said in a news release that the recent years of the survey have shown the effects that climate change is having on California's water resources.
"We can go from historic drought to record rainfall, with nothing in between," Nemeth said. "Climate change will continue to exacerbate the extremes, creating additional challenges for maintaining water supply reliability and the need for innovative solutions."