California April snow survey shows above average snowpack

April 8, 2024
The most recent snow survey in California shows an above average snowpack for the second straight season.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted its April snow survey on April 2, 2024. This was the fourth measurement of the season at Phillips Station.

According to a press release the survey recorded 64 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 27.5 inches, which is 113 percent of the average for this location. The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and is said to be a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast.

DWR conducts five snow survey at Phillips Station each winter. The surveys take place around the first of the month from January through April, and May if necessary.

The April measurement is considered peak snowpack for the season. It marks the transition to spring snowmelt into the state’s waterways. This makes it critical for water managers.

Electronic readings from 130 stations throughout the state indicate that the statewide snowpack’s snow water equivalent is 28.6 inches which is 110% of the April 1 average.

The goal for this data is to forecast the spring snowmelt runoff and to capture as much of that water as possible.

The press release states that California’s reservoirs remain in good shape thanks to the state efforts to capture as much water as possible from the 2023 storms. The State Water Project has increased storage by 700,000 acre-feet at Lake Oroville and 154,000 acre-feet at San Luis Reservoir since January 1 stated the press release. Reservoir levels currently stand at 116% of average statewide.

The prevalence of California’s recent droughts has brought an increased effort in collecting water runoff. According to the press release, in 2023, more than 1.2 million acre-feet of groundwater recharge was permitted by state agencies.

Data from these surveys and forecasts are essential determining factors in how to provide water to California’s 27 million residents.