Sierra snowpack at 130% of normal

Image 1 of 2

Lake Tahoe - Heavenly - owned by Vail Resorts

The water content of the Sierra Nevada snow pack in drought-stricken California was 130 percent of normal Tuesday when officials took a survey.

The survey, taken at Phillips Station, showed 76” of snow and 25+ inches of water content. of normal. 

"That represents 130 percent of its average since 1966," says Frank Gehrke, California's Snow Survey Chief . But, he adds that the statewide average provides a much better overall percentage. "That's running about 115, 166 percent statewide; higher in the northern Sierra at around 120%  but still above average for all areas," says Mr. Gehrke.

The snow pack provides about 30 percent of California's water supply during the months when it melts and rushes through rivers and streams to fill reservoirs that remain critically low.

The results haven't been this positive since the last decent snow year in 2011, which was only slightly higher at this point in time. "One good series of storms could put us on  track top a 2011 which would be quite encouraging in terms of reservoir recovery," says Gehrke. 

Last Jan. 1, the snow pack was a meager 45 percent of the historical average. On April 1, it had dropped to a record low of 5 percent.