California Sees Biggest June Snowpack in Nearly a Decade Thanks to Spring Storms

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A snow plow clears a road near Highway 395 near Mammoth Lakes, Calif., after heavy snow blanketed the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains during a February storm. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A snow plow clears a road near Highway 395 near Mammoth Lakes, Calif., after heavy snow blanketed the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains during a February storm. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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During a weekend that’s widely known as the unofficial start of summer in California, visitors who trekked to Lake Tahoe for Memorial Day were met with a flurry of snowflakes that turned the landscape into a winter wonderland in May.

The storm responsible for the late-season snow in the Sierra Nevada town was one in a series of chilly spring systems that kept temperatures low following a marathon wet winter that filled reservoirs and streams and brought once-dry waterfalls back to life in the region.

Most importantly, the storms have maintained the snowpack — a key source of the state’s water supply — at its highest level for early June since 2011.

As of Monday, the snow blanketing the vast mountain range was 201% of average for the day — even larger than the snowpack on the same day in 2017, a banner year for precipitation that pulled large swaths of Northern California out of persistent drought conditions.

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