California Department of Water Resources Announces Winter’s Second Snow Survey Set for January 29, 2015
January 26, 2015 - SACRAMENTO – Department of Water Resources (DWR) snow surveyors are likely to encounter above-normal temperatures and below-normal snowpack when they conduct their second survey of the wet season on January 29.
California’s drought, now in its fourth year, is characterized by both a lack of precipitation and much warmer than normal temperatures. Calendar year 2014 was the warmest ever in California since record-keeping began in the 1800’s. The early-December storms blew in on warm weather, and the snowpack – which satisfies 30 percent of California’s water needs in normal years – is far below its average water content in late January.
DWR’s first manual survey of this season, conducted on December 30 at the traditional site near Echo Summit on Highway 50 east of Sacramento, found just 4 inches of snow water equivalent, only 33 percent of average for that snow course on that date. Statewide, the snow water equivalent was 50 percent of the multi-year average for December 30.
That average has shrunk in the past month as above-normal temperatures have prevailed, not only on California’s coast and in the Central Valley but in the mountains as well. The statewide snow water equivalent today, as calculated using more than 100 sensors in the Sierra Nevada Range, is 4.3 inches, just 27 percent of normal for this date.
The news media may accompany DWR snow surveyors near Echo Summit on Thursday. The site is Phillips Station at Highway 50 and Sierra at Tahoe Road, approximately 90 miles east of Sacramento. Reporters and photographers should bring snowshoes or cross-country skis and park along Highway 50. Despite current expectations, chains may be required for vehicles. Measurements will begin at 11 a.m., and results should be available by early afternoon.
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. declared a state of drought emergency on January 17, 2014. Visit Drought.CA.Gov to learn how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.
Electronic snowpack readings are available on the Internet at:
Electronic reservoir readings may be found at:
Electronic precipitation readings are at:
For a broader snapshot of current and historical weather conditions, see:
Water Conditions Page