Sierra Snowpack Balloons to 136% of Normal Amid Series of Storms

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A series of storms that has walloped California in recent weeks has proven to be a big boon for one of the state’s most critical sources of fresh water: the Sierra snowpack.

The latest statistics from the California Department of Water show that, as of Wednesday, the snowpack has an astounding snow water equivalent of 136 percent of normal.

Consider last Valentine’s Day, when that same measurement was at just 21 percent.

The change was evident in images released by NASA on Wednesday that showed the mountain range on Feb. 15, 2018 and Feb. 11, 2019.

(Credit: NASA)
(Credit: NASA)

Back-to-back storms that socked the Sierra Nevada this month dropped so much snow across the range that some ski and snowboard resorts had to completely or partially close for days at a time.

In the Eastern Sierra, Mammoth Mountain — which had to shut down for two days last week due to blizzard conditions  — now boasts the most amount of snow at any resort in North America.

Just this week, the resort announced it would remain open through at least July 4.

The resort has received more than 37 feet of snow since the beginning of winter — and more is expected to fall this week, according to NASA.

But beyond lengthening the winter sport season, the snow will ultimately end up playing a crucial role in the state’s fresh water supply in the coming seasons. In fact, the snowpack provides about 30 percent of it.

The spring and summer melt from the snowpack help replenish the state’s reservoirs, though the latest Cal Water data shows most are already at least half-full.

Additionally, It could also help with the state’s ongoing water crisis, according to experts.

“Though conditions could change, California drought watchers are cautiously optimistic that the boost to the snowpack will insulate the state from drought this summer,” NASA said on its website.


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