Tens of millions of residents of the Western United States will be anxiously watching for the results of Friday’s snowpack surveys, and the results could directly impact Californians for the rest of 2022.
The annual measurements of snow levels serve as indicators of how much water will be available for the rest of the spring, summer and early fall, according to Climate Central, a group of scientists and journalists who research climate change and its effects on people.
About half of the U.S.’s water supply — and up to 70% in mountain regions — is stored in snow, Climate Central added, meaning that if snowpack levels are low, the amount of water available for drinking, bathing, agriculture and so many other uses might be, too.
Though the wet season started strong with California snowpacks reaching levels of 160% of normal in January, those figures have dropped precipitously.
By February, figures were closer to 90 and 95%, and now? The Sierra Nevada snowpacks are at 39% of normal, with the Northern Sierra figures at only 30%, according to the California Department of Water Resources.
Fortunately, California got some much-needed precipitation in late March, though government officials and scientists say the dry conditions aren’t over yet.
San Diego County and the surrounding area is in moderate drought, but the rest of California is experiencing extreme or severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. These drought conditions are expected to persist, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.