‘Snow drought’ grips California and western United States, despite recent storms

Despite a recent spate of storms that hit California, the Sierra Nevada is suffering a severe, early season ‘snow drought,’ experts say. Here, storm clouds dwarf downtown Los Angeles on Dec. 21, 2023. Although recent storms have thrashed the California coastline and boosted reservoir levels, the downpours have so far failed to deposit significant snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, which experts say is in the grips of a severe, early season “snow drought.” December’s powerful storms delivered super-sized waves and record-setting rainfall in California, but most of it fell in coastal areas, and almost none in the interior part of the state that is home to the Sierra, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with UCLA. “In some cases there is literally no measurable snow on the ground at all,” Swain said during a briefing Tuesday. “What this means is that right now, as of today, snowpack is at or below all-time record-low numbers for the beginning of January, and I know that’s pretty alarming.” Aggressive and impactful reporting on climate change, the environment, health and science. While there is still time for snowpack conditions to improve, the potential for a meager snow season is worrying. For decades, Californians have depended on the reliable appearance of spring and summer snowmelt to provide nearly a third of the state’s supply of water. Sparse snowpack can also lead to drier, more fire-prone forests. Advertisement On Tuesday, state officials conducted their first snow survey of the season at Phillips Station, near South Lake Tahoe, where the ground was a patchy mixture of grass and powder. The monthly surveys in winter and spring are key to forecasting how the state’s resources will be allocated each year. Snowpack at the location measured 7.5 inches, with a snow water content of 3 inches, said Sean […]

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By Donato