SACRAMENTO — A state agency’s much-anticipated first snow survey of 2014 found little snow in California’s mountain ranges.
Manual and electronic readings taken Jan. 3 showed the statewide snowpack water content at about 20 percent of average for this time of year, the California Department of Water Resources reported.
That is 7 percent of the average April 1 measurement, when the snowpack normally is at its peak before feeding the streams and reservoirs that provide a third of the water used by California’s cities and farms, state officials said in a news release.
The measurement marks the second time in the last three years that the January survey found 20 percent of normal snowpack, according to the release. Snow is particularly sparse in the north, where the water content is only 11 percent of normal for the date and where surveyors have found more bare ground than snow.
“While we hope conditions improve, we are fully mobilized to streamline water transfers and take every action possible to ease the effects of dry weather on farms, homes and businesses as we face a possible third consecutive dry year,” DWR director Mark Cowin said in a statement.
In addition to the sparse snowpack, many areas of California ended calendar year 2013 with their lowest rainfall amounts in history. For instance, Sacramento, which normally gets about 18 inches, ended up with 5.74 inches of precipitation, the state noted.
The survey comes as top state officials were expected to attend a workshop on drought Jan. 7 before the Board of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento. Gov. Jerry Brown last month asked state officials to set up a task force to handle drought preparedness.
Electronic snowpack readings: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/snowapp/sweq.action
Electronic reservoir readings: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/resapp/getResGraphsMain.action
Water conditions page: http://www.water.ca.gov/waterconditions/
Drought page: http://www.water.ca.gov/waterconditions/drought/