California snowpack far off from last year’s record levels

A lack of major storms to wrap up 2023 has the Golden State’s snowpack currently sitting at far below average levels.

Last year’s intense winter storms gave California one of the best water years that it has had in decades. 

This year, however, California’s snowpack is not off to a good start after the end of 2023 failed to bring an average amount of precipitation to the Golden State’s mountain ranges. 


The big picture: Per the latest data available on Wednesday, the statewide snowpack was at 33 percent of the normal average for the date. 

  • The snowpack was also at only 12 percent of the average April 1 snowpack, which typically marks the peak snowpack of the season for California. 
  • Wednesday’s snowpack had an average snow water equivalent of 3.1 inches. 
  • Overall, this is California’s worst snowpack at the beginning of a new year since 2014. 

Go deeper: The Northern Sierra/Trinity region led the state at 36 percent normal for Jan. 3. 

  • The Central Sierra region was not far behind at 32 percent, while the Southern Sierra region lagged at 24 percent. 

What they’re saying: California Department of Water Resources Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit Manager Sean de Guzman said in a statement that while recent storms brought a small boost to the snowpack, the dry fall and below average conditions recently show how fast water conditions can change. 

  • “It’s still far too early to say what kind of water year we will have, and it will be important for Californians to pay attention to their forecasts and conserve water, rain or shine,” Guzman said in a statement. 
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