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‘An excellent water year’: Snow depth doubles in state’s latest Sierra survey

‘What a difference a month and a year make’: Snowpack 153 percent of average

Check out highlights from the third snow survey of 2019, which was held at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada on February 28, 2019.
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Check out highlights from the third snow survey of 2019, which was held at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada on February 28, 2019.

It’s no surprise, but feet upon feet of Sierra snow across multiple storms in February translated to healthy snow water content for California.

How healthy? Department of Water Resources officials observed more than double what they measured last month at Phillips Station near Echo Summit, recording 113 inches of snow depth with a snow water equivalent of 43.5 inches Thursday, according to a news release.

A month ago at the February survey (Jan. 31), snow-water equivalent had reached 100 percent of the statewide average (17.3 inches) at the February survey.

A state putting a drought behind it has seen big jumps this winter in snowpack and water health. Statewide snow water equivalent has soared to 153 percent of average (37.1 inches), nearly six times more water than recorded last Feb. 28 (just 5.5 inches) and already 33 percent above California’s average accumulation by April 1.

California will likely continue to get good precipitation through April with help from El Niño conditions, DWR said in Thursday’s release.

“This is shaping up to be an excellent water year,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said in a statement.

In a bit of irony, release of the snow survey’s results was delayed and a planned livestream of the survey was canceled due to snow. Thursday’s conditions blocked cell and internet service at Phillips Station.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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