California’s Snowpack Falls Below Average, Sparking New Drought Fears

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After a promising start to winter, California’s snowpack has shrunk to below-average levels, causing state water officials to redouble their calls for water conservation.

On Tuesday, the statewide snowpack stood at only 83% of average for the day, a result the California Department of Water Resources blamed on fall and winter seasons that have brought only “moderate precipitation” and “relatively warm temperatures.”

Officials say that traditionally, half of the state’s annual water falls as rain or snow during December, January and February, so the declining state of the snowpack is cause for some concern.

A healthy, robust snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is crucial to easing California’s prolonged drought and the water contained in the snow is what is most important to officials. In normal years, the snowpack supplies about one-third of California’s water needs as it melts and runs off into reservoirs during the hotter spring and summer months.

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