Survey: Snowpack way low

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat /

The water content in the state's snowpack is 66 percent of the average for this time of year and only 57 percent of the average amount for the entire winter season, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

The department on Friday announced the results of its third snow survey of the year.

The survey found the snowpack "has not kept pace with the calendar" and it is "unlikely" late-season storms will make up a deficit in water supply.

The Sierra snowpack makes up about a third of the water supply for state farms and communities, as the snow melts in the spring and summer to fill reservoirs, rivers and aquifers. The DWR measures the snowpack's water content to forecast supplies for the remainder of the year.

"Near-record dry weather combined with pumping restrictions to protect Delta smelt are making this a gloomy water supply year," Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said in a written statement.

According to the snow survey results, electronic readings for the Central Sierra Nevada mountains show 67 percent of average water content to-date and 58 percent of the seasonal average. The survey put the Northern Sierra at 70 percent to-date and 62 percent for the season. The Southern Sierra is at 60 percent to-date and 51 percent for the season.

The department estimates it will be able to deliver 40 percent of the approximately 4 million acre-feet of water requested by public agencies through the State Water Project. That number could change depending on the conditions, according to the department. Last year, the project delivered 65 percent of its requests.

Local water district representatives last week said it's still too early to make a judgement on the coming water year in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties.

Weather forecasts this week predict some rain and snow.

According to a special statement issued Sunday by the National Weather Service, a cold front will move through the region on Tuesday and possibly impact the area through Friday. The front is expected to bring rain and snow Tuesday and Wednesday, with as much as a foot of snow falling at 5,000 feet and a foot and a half falling at 5,500.

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The Union Democrat
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