After witnessing the lack of snow in the Sierra, Governor Jerry Brown ordered California's first-ever mandatory statewide water restrictions, and the Tahoe snowpack this year is officially the worst on record. When the California Cooperative Snow Survey headed to Phillips Station, near the now-closed Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort, they found no snow at all. Normally on April 1, the area averages 63 inches of snow still on the ground, and the lowest record before this year was 27 inches in 1977. Last year's abysmal snowpack still measured 33 inches at Phillips Station on April 1, so a measurement of zero doesn't just break the record, it surpasses it by a landslide.
Normally, the snowpack in the Sierra reaches its peak in April. Not only was the April 1 measurement the first time the state didn't have any snow to measure in 75 years of record keeping, but also it was the first time the California governor attended the event. But in the midst of year four of an epic drought, drastic times call for drastic measures.
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
8 Excuses From the People Using the Most Water in California
SoCal Pissing Off NorCal With Wanton Increases in Water Use
Facing criticism that the state has done too little to respond to the drought, Governor Brown has called for a 25 percent statewide reduction in urban water use from 2013 levels. He also wants to boost enforcement of water waste, require drip irrigation at new construction, crack down on illegal uses of water, and invest in new water-saving technologies.
How has the drought affected California's ski areas? It's officially been one of the driest winters ever, and big-time ski areas like Sugar Bowl Resort and Sierra-at-Tahoe have been forced to close early. Even states that are not in the same sort of drought cycle as California have suffered from warm temperatures and lack of snow. Mt. Baker, Washington is one of the snowiest places in North America, boasting the highest average annual snowfall of any U.S. ski area with 682 inches. And while there has been plenty precipitation this year, it's been almost entirely rain, with less than 200 inches at the snow-starved resort.
A few small storms (3-6 inches) are in Tahoe's forecast over the next 10 days. These storms won't save the 2014-2015 ski season, but any moisture is a good thing at this point.
· No denying drought — barren ground at 7,000 feet [Lake Tahoe News]
· Gov. Jerry Brown announces first-ever statewide mandatory water reductions [Mercury News]
· For snow tracker, lots of attention but little work to do [LA Times]