Snow survey: Confirmation of half of California out of official drought status

The Sierra Snow Survey confirms why half of California is already out of official drought status and is on its to adding a lot more, if not the whole state. It may not be time to take a victory lap, but after Friday's snow survey, you can see we're coming up on the checkered flag ahead.

Friday's March snow survey, just off Highway 50 at Phillips Station, was originally scheduled for last Wednesday but Consulting Meteorologist and Professor Jan Null says that became impossible yet a good omen. 

"They had to put off the measurement day by a couple of days so they could get access to the site because there's so much snow up there," said Null.

That's already far more than what would be the historical average in April; the historical peak of snowpack measurements. 

"Our statewide snowpack is sitting at 190% of average as of this morning," said California Snow Survey & Water Supply Manager Sean de Guzman.

More rain and snow are on the way. 

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"This snowpack actually rivals 1982 and 1983, which is the largest snowpack on record. With the next few storms here, throughout this month, we could actually surpass that and that's something we're gonna be looking out for by the time we get to April 1. The southern Sierra actually has almost over two years of snow waiting to melt, with more to come," said de Guzman.

To Bay Area legendary forecaster and professor of hundreds of other forecasters, Jan Null, it all adds up to this. 

"For most places, you know, we really have knocked the legs out from under this drought. For most purposes, the state is out of drought certainly as far as rainfall," said Null.

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A significant snowpack runoff is not expected for at least another month. 

"This snowpack is a cold snowpack right now," said de Guzman.

Only extreme heat and very warm rain can upset what should otherwise be a highly manageable runoff. 

"I think the biggest consequences will be on the potential for flooding depending on rain patterns and temperature patterns as we go in through this month and certainly in April probably as well," said Null.

Another piece of great news is that much of that Sierra runoff will have to pass through dozens of hydroelectric power generation plants.  Unlike natural gas, the fuel and water are free and should cut electricity bills, especially at times of peak power use this summer and fall.