Calif. snowpack survey points to drought-laden 2022

On the heels of a bone-dry 2021, the new year is shaping up to deliver a second dose of bad news and drought.

California’s snowpack is well-below average at the end of what should have been the state’s wettest months of the year, signaling another dry year ahead. 

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the third snow survey of the season at Phillips Station, south of Lake Tahoe. 


With January and February coming in as the driest in state history, the survey recorded 35 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 16 inches. Those numbers come in at 68 percent of the average for this time of year at that location. 

The statewide numbers are even worse, with the total snowpack at 63 percent of the average. 

“With only one month left in California’s wet season and no major storms in the forecast, Californians should plan for a third year of drought conditions,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said in a statement. 

“A significantly below average snowpack combined with already low reservoir levels make it critical that all Californians step up and conserve water every day to help the state meet the challenges of severe drought.” 

The Northern, Central and Southern Sierra snowpacks all range from 59 percent to 66 percent of average, currently. 

To top things off, Lake Shasta – California’s largest reservoir – sits at 37 percent capacity as many reservoirs around the state are not close to full. 

“With below average precipitation and snowpack up until this p[oint, our latest statewide snowmelt forecasts are only 66 percent of average,” said Sean de Guzman, Manager of DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit, in a statement. 

“That is not enough to fill up our reservoirs. Without any significant storms on the horizon, it’s safe to say we’ll end this year dry and extend this drought a third year.” 

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