Snow totals are low and melting fast


After the round of recent storms there was some hope that the April 1 snow survey in the high country might show a little improvement. What the surveyors found was that the water content of 32 percent ranks this year among the lowest three ever since statewide numbers were first recorded in 1930.

The paltry pack comes on the heels of the third driest winter on record, the driest calendar year in the previous 84, and the third consecutive season with below normal precipitation. The already low levels currently in the state’s reservoirs promise a gloomy summer for farmers and many communities.

“We’re already seeing farmland fallowed and cities scrambling for water supplies,” said Mark Cowin, director of the Department of Water Resources. “We can hope conditions improve, but time is running out, and conservation is the only tool we have against nature’s whim.”

Lake Kaweah is an example of what’s going on up and down the Sierra Nevada. The local reservoir must now retain as much runoff as possible in the next few weeks as the snow rapidly melts.

As of Thursday, April 10, the storage at Lake Kaweah was 33,600 acre feet (capacity is 185,000 acre feet). 

In Three Rivers, the total rainfall remains at 6.91 inches for the season. In 2009, the year-to-date total for Three Rivers was 7.09 inches on March 22; that year, it rained nearly 10 inches in the next two months. 

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