Measurement Shows Sierra Snowpack Deeper Than Last Year, But It Won’t End the Drought

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Keith Swanson and Frank Gehrke conduct a snow survey at Phillips Station on March 28, 2013. (Credit: California Department of Water Resources)

Measurements of Sierra Nevada snowpack on Tuesday showed more snow than surveyors recorded a year ago. But state water officials said it was far from enough to signal a potential end to California’s continuing drought.

“Although this year’s survey shows a deeper snowpack than last year, California needs much more rain and snow than we’ve experienced over the past two years to end the drought,” Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said.

Snowpack accounts for about a third of the state’s water supply when it melts in the late spring and summer and replenishes reservoirs. Another year of reduced snowpack levels leaves water officials worried that agricultural areas could face another difficult, dry year in 2015.

At Phillips Station snow course, about 90 miles east of Sacramento, surveys on Tuesday found about 21.3 inches of snow. If melted, the amount of snow in that area would contain about 4 inches of water, the Department of Water Resources said.

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