Everything about this winter in California has been unprecedented: the warm temperatures, the lack of snow, and how many ski areas have closed early. Now, electronic surveys show that the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada has reached historic lows, making this season the driest winter ever in 65 years of record-keeping.
Throughout the Sierra, the snowpack is currently at about 8 percent of the historical average for this time of year. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that in a normal year, the snowpack accounts for about 30 percent of California's water needs in the summer and fall. "Meteorologists see nothing on the horizon that could pull the state out of its increasingly frightful drought."
The historic lows even beat out the bad drought years of 2014 and 1977. Last year, the snowpack was 25 percent of normal on April 1. Just how much worse is it this year? Surveyors normally measure an average of 66.5 inches of snow on the ground on April 1 at Phillips Station, near the now-closed Sierra-at-Tahoe resort. Doug Carlson, spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources, told the San Francisco Chronicle last week that they don't expect to find any snow at Philips Station when they take their measurements Wednesday.
More on the California Drought:
The Worst Winter Ever? Sierra-at-Tahoe Closes Due to No Snow
Ski Industry Expert Says 31% of Today's Ski Areas Are Dying
Another Tahoe Resort Closes, This Time It's Sugar Bowl Resort
Inside the High-Dollar Fight to Save California Skiing
Although it might be too little too late for many of Tahoe's ski areas, it does look like there is (finally) snow in the forecast. The experts at Open Snow predict much colder weather and possible snow around Easter. At this point, whatever moisture falls is a good thing for drought-afflicted California, regardless of the skiing.
· California drought: Sierra Nevada snowpack hits historic low [San Francisco Chronicle]
· Open Snow [Official Site]