CA Snowpack Back Above Normal Again after Driest Year in Nearly a Century

CA Snowpack Back Above Normal Again after Driest Year in Nearly a Century

Created: 31 December, 2021
Last update: 26 July, 2022

By Sandra G. Leon

Recent storms dumped enough snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to bring the annual snowpack back above normal levels as the state enters the traditional rainy season.

State officials estimate that the state’s snowpack is at 160% of normal for this time of the year, a welcomed sign after having just ended the second-driest year on record and the driest since 1924.

Snowpack readings at this time last year were 52% of normal levels.

Annual rain totals are measured from October 1 through September 30. During the 12-month period ending in September, the state only received 11.87″ of rain, or about half the 23.5″ average expected in California.

A multi-year drought recently led Governor Gavin Newsom to call for 15% voluntary water use cuts before the state is forced to institute mandatory use reductions if water levels remain low.

Over 87% of the state is currently experiencing drought conditions, and low rainfall in recent years has already depleted water sources, including all but two of the state’s reservoirs and one of the state’s latest sources of water, Lake Mead outside of Las Vegas.

Lake Mead, which suppliers water to Los Angeles and most of Southern California, is at its historical low now, and, has not been this low since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in office.

The largest reservoir in the US, Lake Mead can hold 9.3 trillion gallons of water, but is currently at only 35% capacity, the lowest level since April 1937 when it was still being filled behind Hoover Dam.

Lake Mead provides water to Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego, Southern California farms, and parts of Northern Mexico.

Water allocations from Lake Mead for 2022 have already been cut, including reducing Mexico’s allocation by 80,000 acre-feet, Nevada’s allocation will be cut by 21,000 acre-feet, and the largest cuts will be to Arizona’s allocation, with a reduction of 512,000 fewer acre-feet. An acre-foot is enough water to supply two households for one year.