first_imgDespite a dry January, officials said California reservoirs still have plenty of water, thanks to wet winters in the three previous years. “We had a really dry January and a lot of people started asking questions, but we weren’t really in danger of drought because we have so much storage,” department spokesman Don Strickland said Friday. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! ECHO SUMMIT – Winter storms last month boosted snow levels in the Sierra Nevada, although more is needed to make up for this year’s dry start, the Department of Water Resources said Friday in its monthly snow survey. In the northern Sierra, at 6,800 feet above sea level, researchers measured the snow at 63.8 inches deep, about 78percent of what is expected this time of year. The average snowpack along the 400-mile long mountain range was 64 percent of normal. Although the readings were still low, the snow’s water content was significantly higher than a month ago. A storm dumped as much as 9 feet of snow on the upper elevations of the Sierra over the past week, including about 6 feet in back-to-back storms last weekend. “It’s a nice boost. Things were looking pretty grim in February,” said Maurice Roos, the department’s chief hydrologist. The snow’s water content was deeper in the northern Sierra – 71 percent of normal – and slightly lower in the central and southern Sierra – 66 percent and 55 percent respectively. Researchers from the department conduct five monthly snow surveys from January to May, measuring the snow at 382 stations so they can predict water supply for the year. Runoff from the Sierra provides more than a third of the state’s drinking and irrigation water. Hydroelectric plants also rely on snowmelt to produce about a quarter of the state’s power. Roos said changes in the state’s weather in the next few months could further improve snow and water levels. There is usually an additional 10 to 15 percent of snowfall in March, he said. The current readings “put us about where we were at this time last year,” department snow surveys chief Frank Gehrke said in a statement. last_img

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