Third year of drought in California expected, not enough snow in the Sierra Nevada
On April 1, the California Department of Water Resources reported that precipitation for the March had been significantly below average. Aggregated data on the level of precipitation indicates that this winter (Jan-Mar) was the driest period in 101 years since the beginning of recorded observations.
On the same day Phillips Station, south of Lake Tahoe, measured the snow cap, recording only 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) deep. In the past, average depth at the same location was 66.5 inches (168.9 cm). Statewide snowpack levels were at 38% of historical average.
Karla Nemeth, Director of DWR, stated:
The conditions we are seeing today speak to how severe our drought remains. DWR has been planning for the reality of a third dry year since the start of the water year on October 1.
It should be noted that the current snow cap at the site contains only 1 inch of water, or 4% of the early April average.
Typically in Sierra Nevada snow builds up during the winter, replenishing the reservoirs in the spring and supplying up to 30% of the water in California. Due to record lows, officials preparing for another water shortages this summer, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has already issued an order to implement conservation plans:
Today, I am calling on local water agencies to take stronger action to conserve water, including directing the (State) Water Board to evaluate a ban on watering ornamental grass at commercial properties that will result in water savings at this critical time. Despite climatic extremes, we must all continue to do our part and make water conservation a way of life.
Summer of 2022 will be the third dry year for the state, which will cause even more damage to the local ecosystems and might cause another round of severe wildfires.