Recent snow storms chip away at California drought

Across the Sierra, the dig out continued on Sunday.

The region has been hit with four feet of snow over the last few days, and an incoming blizzard is expected to drop several more feet on the area through Wednesday. 

It's bad news for those traveling to Tahoe, but good news for California's reservoir system.

"Each successive storm is going to help us." said Andrew Schwartz, the lead scientist at the UC Berkeley Snow Lab. "We’re looking really good moving forward. We’ve effectively eliminated a lot of our short term drought." 

According to Schwartz the Sierra snow pack provides about 30% of California’s freshwater. It refills the state reservoirs as it melts in the spring. 

A series of atmospheric rivers in December, followed by all the recent snow, has helped California slowly bring its reservoir levels up amid a historic drought.

"Coming into this year we were in the driest 22-year period in 1200 years," said Schwartz. "We’ve gone from extreme and exceptional, to a moderate status, and that continues to shrink."  

With 36 feet of snow so far this water year, Schwartz said the Snow Lab has received 120% of its average snowfall, and the winter is far from over.

SEE ALSO: National Weather Service reports Bay Area snow totals from latest storm 

But, he said California is not out of the drought danger zone yet. 

"We’re not at a point yet where we can declare all of our drought is over," said Schwartz. "We need to be able to conserve water and keep moving forward as though we don’t have plenty of water, and every drop saved now will be available when we do have a shortage."

Because snow generally continues to fall in the Sierra through April, Schwartz said he will have a better idea in a few weeks, about just how impactful this season’s snowfall has been on the drought.