Kings River watershed faces below average snowpack

The watershed is facing its fourth below-average water season in the last five years if the coming storms don’t start adding to the snowpack.

The first survey of the season in the Sierra Nevada mountains of eastern Fresno and Tulare Counties has found below average snowpack in the Kings River watershed. 

After a somewhat dry start to the year compared to last year’s historic storms, snowpack conditions within the Kings River watershed are a fraction of what existed at this time last year. 


The big picture: Snowpack water content is at 6.6 inches, which is 37 percent of the average for Feb. 1 and only 23 percent of the April 1 average when the snowpack typically peaks. 

  • Snow depths are averaging 28 inches this year, a far cry from the 54 inches in an average winter. 
  • Last year surveyors found an average snow depth of 113 inches, with three of the snow courses last year measured at over 150 inches. At the time, the Kings River snowpack was at 241 percent of the historical Feb. 1 average. 

What they’re saying: Kings River Watermaster Steve Haugen said the storms since the water year began last October have not generated much snow. 

  • “We’re hoping the storms predicted to begin this week will turn things around,” Haugen said. “Otherwise, we may be headed for our fourth below-average water season in the past five years.” 
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