New data shows California’s already epic snowpack, not surprisingly, has improved even more thanks to last week’s winter storm that buried the Sierra Nevada mountain range under several additional feet of snow.

California Snow Water Equivalents as of Feb. 27, 2023
California Snow Water Equivalents as of Feb. 27, 2023 (California DWR)

As of Monday, California’s snow water equivalent was 181% of average for Feb. 27 and 156% of a full season’s average, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

The latest storm increased the state’s snow water equivalent by around four inches, to 40.6″.

Snow water equivalent is a hydrology term for water depth if the snow was liquid.

The Northern Sierra/Trinity region’s snowpack is 144% of the average, Central Sierra is 185%, and the Southern Sierra mountains, 219%.

While California’s snowpack continues to build at a torrid pace, it is still slightly behind the record pace of the 1982-1983 winter.

“It is still too early to tell if this year will beat out the record snowpack year of 1982-83,” said Sean De Guzman, Manager of DWR’s Snow Survey program. “California would have to continue building its snowpack through the months of March, April, and possibly May.”

Thanks to California’s wet winter, several regions of the Golden State including the Central Coast and Central Sierra, are no longer considered to be in a drought.

California drought conditions as of Feb. 23, 2023
California drought conditions as of Feb. 23, 2023 (U.S. Drought Monitor)

Water managers, however, caution that no single wet winter could reverse the impacts of many years of below-average precipitation.

“While winter storms have helped the snowpack and reservoirs, groundwater basins are much slower to recover. Many rural areas are still experiencing water supply challenges, especially communities that rely on groundwater supplies which have been depleted due to prolonged drought,” said Jeanine Jones, Interstate Resources Manager at DWR.