Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

On Sunday, Dec. 30, there were 16 inches of snow at the Lodgepole measuring station in Sequoia. (Click arrows for a closeup photo.)

Sierra snow is below average

Sarah Elliott


There was enough snow on the ground in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park on Sunday, Dec. 30, to cause icy accidents for vehicles on slick roads, mishaps for unsuspecting visitors on frozen paths, and a slope-full of happy children and the young-at-heart at the Wolverton Snowplay Area. 
At the Lodgepole snow stake, which is monitored by park staff when not in the midst of a government shutdown and park closure, there was a foot of snow at the close of 2018.
But it’s not enough, say Department of Water Resources staff, who took the season’s first snowfall measurement at midday Thursday, Jan. 3. 
The experts determined that Sierra snowpack is only 67 percent of normal. 
The snow is measured each year at or near the first of each month from January until May at more than 260 locations throughout the mountain range to help water managers plan for how much they can deliver to customers later in the year. As snow in the Sierra melts in the spring and summer, it flows into reservoirs for storage and provides drinking and agricultural water for much of California. 
The Sierra snowpack supplies about 30 percent of the state's water needs, according to the California Department of Water Resources. California typically gets about two-thirds of its annual rainfall between December and March. In 2018, the majority of the season’s precipitation came after March 1.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a storm to bring snow and rain to Central California and parts north, including the Sierra, on Saturday, Jan. 5, and continuing intermittently into next week.