Snowpack Leads to State Drought Concerns

January, usually a big month for stormy weather, has come and gone. While Mammoth Mountain has logged 70 inches of snow for the month, state water officials are preparing for a third year of drought.

Department of Water Resources survey results show a statewide snowpack at 61% normal to date. Last year at this time the Sierra snowpack ran 111% normal but was followed by the driest spring on record.

DWR Director Lester Snow says that the low precipitation in January and snowpack results from recent surveys indicate California is heading for a third dry year. According to Snow, We may be at the start of the worst California drought in modern history.

Here in the Eastern Sierra, two short bursts of stormy weather have come through for the month. The first storm dropped 4 inches of snow. The second multi-day series of storms dropped 66 inches of snow at the ski area. The dense snow that fell with these warm storms was great boost the snowpack, but still left water supply numbers low for the coming year.

Mammoth Mountain lists 70 inches of new snow for the month, above the 67.7 inch average for the ski area.

What falls matters for skiing, what melts matters for the water supply. The DWP website shows the water content at Mammoth Pass at 16.2 inches or 62% normal to date. About six inches of water content fell from the sky with this latest round of storms.

Rock Creek checks in at 52% normal to date. South Lake is listed at 58% normal. Big Pine Creek is running at 49% normal snowpack to date, according to the DWP website.

Whether the wet February in the forecast amounts to a weather bailout is yet to be seen.

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