California’s snowpack is off to one of its best starts in 40 years thanks to a series of storms early in the season and a weather pattern that continues to deliver precipitation into the new year, state surveyors announced Tuesday.

Officials with California’s Department of Water Resources conducted their first snow survey of the year at Phillips Station near Lake Tahoe Tuesday morning, measuring 55.5 inches of snow, which is 177% of average for that location.

Automated snow measurements are totaling more than 200% of average in many locations.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Sean Guzman, DWR’s manager of snow surveys. “This year’s snowpack is actually better than where we were last year.”

Last winter, California also saw snow pile up to above-average levels through December – before Mother Nature pumped the brakes.

January, February and March were extremely dry and the 2022 water year ended as the driest on record, contributing to California’s record-breaking drought.

“We will need consecutive storms, month after month of above average rain, snow and runoff to really help refill our reservoirs so that we can start digging ourselves out of extreme drought,” Guzman said.

California is expected to receive additional significant rain and snow over the next week with the potential for flooding in some parts of the state.