Atmospheric river boosted California snowpack well above average by mid-January

Snowpack across California is about 110 percent of normal for this time of year, thanks in no small part to an atmospheric river that brought heavy snowstorms to the Sierra range, the state Department of Water Resources’ most recent data show.

As of last Friday, the northern Sierra snowpack measured at 113 percent of normal. The central and south Sierra were each observed at 110 percent of normal, for a statewide average of 111 percent, according to DWR’s latest snow survey.

Statewide snowpack is more than quadruple what it was by this time last year.

Snow totals as of the same dates in January 2016 and 2017 were both above 100 percent of average, but recorded snowpack as of Jan. 18, 2018 measured at only 24 percent of normal, representing just 3.4 inches of average snow water equivalent across the state.

This month’s atmospheric river system dropped as much as 4 feet of snow in some areas near Tahoe. It also brought blizzard conditions to the Sierra’s higher elevations and record rainfall to Sacramento.

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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.