Instead of being covered with fresh snow during the first Sierra snow survey of the season, Phillips Station in El Dorado County was full of tall, brown grass and sparse patches of snow.
One of the driest Decembers in California history has left a snow pack of just 1.5 inches at the Phillips measuring station. That’s the lowest total since 2012 had 0.6 of an inch and the second lowest total since the state began measuring snow at the station in 1964.
“The survey is a disappointing start of the year, but it’s far too early to draw conclusions about what kind of a wet season we’ll have this year,” said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program who conducted today’s survey at Phillips.
Up to 60% of California's water supply starts out as snow in the Sierras. Snowpack so far this year is a fourth of normal across the region.
Department of Water Resources director Grant Davis says state reservoirs still have good supplies from a rainy winter last year and he says the state still has ample time left for big snowstorms.