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

Snow survey reveals a record-dry December

By: 
John Elliott

 

Although results of the statewide snow survey conducted on Wednesday, Jan. 3, are still being recorded by officials of the California Department of Water Resources, the manual survey conducted at Phillips Station at 6,000 feet east of Sacramento revealed the dire news that is not expected to vary much up or down the Sierra Nevada. 
 
With members of the media looking on, state officials measured .04 inches  water content in the snow that was on the ground. The early January average water content for the same location is 11.43 inches.
 
Readings at the Phillips Station have been taken every year since 1964. The snow survey numbers are used throughout the season (January to May) to determine how much spring runoff might be expected from the sierra Nevada Mountain Range that has produced some impressive totals, especially in El Nino years.  
 
Water content is calculated as the amount of water contained in the snow if it all melted at once. In the nearby mountains, snow is nearly non-existent. If snow is encountered above 6,000 feet, it is patchy and clinging to the north-facing exposures.
Fresno and many Valley locales are reporting the fourth or fifth driest December on record.
 
A trace amount of rain fell in some parts of Three Rivers in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 4. It looked like rain and felt like rain, and by the afternoon had cleared the air in the Kaweah canyon.
 
Intermittent chances for showers are in the forecast for Saturday and there’s a good chance for rain next Tuesday (Jan. 9). Kaweah Country is currently among the places with the best, albeit dry, weather when considering that two-thirds of the U.S. are in the grips of blizzards and subzero temperatures.  
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