When it comes to measuring snow in the Sierra Nevada, the more data used, the better the water outlook. That 200 percent is twice the norm for March 1 since snow records have been kept since 1947.
And if it doesn’t rain a drop or snow a single flake from now till April, the current average of 46 inches of water content is 173 percent of the April 1 norm. Translation: this huge snowpack is going to take some extended hot weather to bring all that water from the mountains to the reservoirs below.
At Hockett Meadow in the South Fork drainage near 8,000 feet, the snowpack is 10 feet. The same amount, or even more in shady places, have the Mineral King valley in the East Fork also buried in snow.
The Highbridge Creek locale along the Mineral King Road (about 1.5 miles below the Mineral King Ranger Station) is currently buried with debris due to an avalanche. This event hindered the monthly snow survey in the Mineral King valley.
At the Phillips Station, off Highway 50 (90 miles east of Sacramento), where the State Department of Water Resources conducts a live demonstration on the first of the month during snow season, there is currently a content of 43 inches of water; the March 1 average is 26 inches.
In 2014, there was patchy snow at Phillips Station and negligible water content. What a difference a record-setting season can make.
Since October 1, Three Rivers has received 28.15 inches of rainfall. This past week of drying out was timely, but the rainy season is not over. In fact, another storm is taking aim at California and should arrive in this region on Sunday.
On Thursday, March 2, Lake Kaweah storage was 97,252 acre feet or slightly more than one-half of the basin’s capacity. The current mean inflow is 1,392 cubic feet per second while the outflow is 2,032 cfs.
Dam-tenders are in the “making room” stage because they know there is a lot more water on its way. There is water flowing everywhere and springs that have been replenished for the first time in decades.